A former Commander of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service has blamed the increasing spate of indiscipline and carnage on the roads in the country on corrupt practices prevailing among the law enforcement and regulatory bodies.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr Victor Tandoh (retd) said while there were good road safety regulations to ensure sanity on the roads, corruption on the part of some policemen, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the courts had partly undermined efforts to ensure safety on the roads.
“Today, corruption is becoming of our daily lives, particularly on the part of the police, the DVLA and the courts, and this is sabotaging efforts to ensure strict adherence to road safety regulations by motorists to save the lives of the people,” he stated.
Graphic security project
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra as part of the newspaper’s special project on personal safety and security awareness, Mr Tandoh also cited policymakers, government officials and top public servants for equally contributing to the challenge by interfering in the work of the police who arrested drivers for flouting traffic regulations.
“Passengers cannot be left out, as they also encourage drivers who commit various traffic offences to pay their way through in order not to waste time,” he stated.
Mr Victor Tandoh was sharing his perspective on how to instil discipline on the roads to enhance road safety and reduce accidents.
Mr Tandoh, who became the head of the MTTD in 2001 and retired in 2017, said while there were many honest MTTD personnel who were working hard to ensure sanity on the roads, the conduct of some officers taking money and failing to check the conduct of motorists was negating the output of the good ones.
“We have very honest and efficient policemen out there who will not accept money from offending drivers, but there are others who, when assigned on the roads, see it as a cocoa season for them,” he said.
He added that there were many instances when other policemen assigned to checkpoints and patrol duties would perform the functions of MTTD personnel by arresting and collecting money from motorists.
“These dishonest men should be ashamed of themselves because it is not the amount of money you make on the road that will make you rich. If you collect money from drivers and you mix it up with your money, your money will not stand,” he said.
He, therefore, urged corrupt policemen to change their attitudes and follow the good examples of hardworking ones. He advised that “corrupt policemen should be posted to other units within the Police Service to deprive them of the opportunity to collect money from drivers”.
Mr Tandoh acknowledged that although a lot of reforms had been instituted at the DVLA to curb corrupt practices and minimise the activities of ‘goro boys’, not much had changed up till date.
According to him, a visit to the offices of the DVLA would reveal the presence of ‘goro boys’ who were still having “a field day working harder than before”.
“Presently, people are still acquiring new driving licences and renewing their licences without going through the system.
“Besides, even though the DVLA has opened more outlets, people are acquiring road user certificates without sending their vehicles for assessment and this is made possible through corruption,” he added.
Touching on corruption in the courts, ACP Tandoh claimed that when drivers were arrested and sent to face the law, it was the duty of the courts to slap the appropriate punishment on offending drivers in the form of fines, suspension or revocation of licences or recommending that the drivers attend driving school to obtain proper certificates.
He, however, said information being gathered revealed that there was alleged collaboration among police prosecutors, court clerks and judges whose conduct undermined efforts to make drivers face justice.
“As we saw in the Anas Number 12 exposé, I hope that judges, court clerks and police prosecutors will learn something out of the exposé and change their attitudes, so that all of us will help bring sanity on our roads,” he said.
Big men perverting justice
Mr Tandoh also expressed worry about what he described as interference in the work of MTTD personnel by people he termed as “big men”.
He stated that most drivers of vehicles that were impounded for flouting traffic regulations worked for political figures, government officials, public servants and other Ghanaians in positions of influence.
“These big men interfere in the work of policemen by intervening on behalf of offending drivers and this often leads to perversion of justice, making many drivers notorious.
“Anybody who uses his office to plead on behalf of an offending driver perverts justice, since they also get themselves involved in corrupt practices. This is because they do not want justice to take its course.
“They corrupt the system, as there had been many situations when those big men bribed policemen to release recalcitrant motorists,” he stated, saying that such misconduct had contributed to the insanity on the roads.