Stealing at tollbooths: Gov’t wages war on officials

Presidential Staffer, Dr. Clement Apaak, has called on the law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute all unscrupulous persons manning numerous tollbooths across the country, who have indulged in any criminal activity in the discharge of their duties.

Consequently, he appealed to Ghanaians, particularly motorists and passengers, to report to the police of any tollbooth official who indulges in any fraudulent act for immediate arrest.

Dr. Apaak, who made these remarks in an interview with an Accra-based radio station, Okay FM recently, declared government’s commitment to deal with corrupt officials at the various tollbooths in the country.

According to the presidential staffer, the selfishness on the part of majority of Ghanaian workers was the cause of the current difficulties the country was facing, adding that workers were no longer interested in serving institutions with their whole heart, but rather thinking about what they would gain during their tenure of office.

President John Dramani Mahama, according to Dr. Apaak, has directed the police to inspect tickets given to drivers at the various tollbooths.

In this regard, he urged drivers to demand tickets after they pay to help fight corrupt practices at the tollbooths.

He observed that his outfit’s investigations have unearthed how some “heartless persons” manning the tollbooths across the country were milking the state of billions of Ghana Cedis.

He pointed out that without show of patriotism in the mobilisation of the needed revenue to lift the country from its present economic quagmire; these “enemies of state” have devised canny means to fill their pockets with monies that originally should have gone into the state coffers.

“Not even calls by economic gurus and policy experts on the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to adopt innovative ways to shore up domestic revenue mobilisation would prick the conscience of these self-centered tollbooth officials to put the interest of nation ahead of their parochial interests,” he asserted.

Dr. Apaak said the operations of the nation wrecking tollbooth personnel were prevalent at places where their operations were not automated as they conspired with ‘friendly’ commercial drivers to deny the state of the needed revenue.

He stated that: “our investigations revealed that personnel hired to man the tollbooths allow their co-conspirators (commercial drivers) to pay half of what they are required by law to pay.”

According to him, the drivers were then not given a ticket as the money ended in the pockets of the personnel. In essence, a driver who was required to pay GH¢1 per trip gets 50Gp discount while the officials also have 50Gp.

He noted that their investigations also showed that this dubious act was not done at weekends as most senior officials of state ply the roads.

A recent tour to some busy tollbooths in Accra by Today revealed that the practice was done with connivance of commercial drivers, who frequently used the roads and were friends to the personnel.

Today gathered that although the fraudulent act was widespread in the country, especially where tollbooths were not automated, the practice was pervasive on the Madina-Adentan-Aburi, Accra-Tema Motorway and Accra-Kasoa roads.

It would be recalled that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) under the late President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills in 2010 reviewed tolls collected at the various tollbooths in the country with approval from Parliament on a new road and bridge tolls under Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 2009, Act 793.

Consequently, motorbikes which previously were exempted from the payment of tolls under the new law were being made to pay 10Gp; saloon cars which used to pay 5Gp are paying 50Gp, while pick-ups and light buses pay GH¢1, from the 8Gp they used to pay.

The others were mummy wagons, GH¢1; heavy buses and light goods truck (tow axes), GH¢1.50; medium goods truck (three axles), GH¢2; heavy good truck (four axles), GH¢2, heavy goods truck (five and more axles) GH¢ 2.50; agricultural tractors, 50Gp, and agricultural tractors with trailer, 50Gp.

The then Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr. Joe Gidisu, explained that the decision to increase toll fares was to mobilise more resources for the construction and maintenance of roads in the country.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Today, some passengers in some parts of Accra pointed out that that the purpose for which the new tollbooth fares were introduced has been defeated.

source : Today Newspaper