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Two road tolls in Ghana: The ‘Real Toll’ is off

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The recent abolishing of road tolls in the country by the government has left a lot of Ghanaians (both in the country and abroad) with mix-feelings. For many of the people who worked as toll collectors across the country, most of whom are physically challenged people, and others such as hawkers who sell at these toll booths, their source of income and livelihood have been taken away from them.

Some drivers, especially long-distance passengers and cargo drivers, are a good relief since they no longer pay the toll.

Road tolls, sometimes called toll-ways, are built with local, state or national government money raised from taxes. Road tolls are like a tax that applies only to the users of toll-ways. The money accrued from road tolls is used to construct and maintain roads without raising taxes or increasing the general public’s tax burden.

The recent announcement of the closure of all road tolls in the country by the Ministry of Road and Highway was met with divergent views from Ghanaians, particularly the drivers.

Some Ghanaians find the abolition a beautiful idea and argue that road tolls create many traffic jams or congestions on our roads, especially in the morning when workers hurry to get to work on time. Secondly, much is not seen with regards to improving our roads. Still, for others, it should not be scrapped off for the same reasons it was created; taking it off will render some people jobless, and the hawkers, who sell along most of our toll booths, will struggle to make ends meet.

As we are busily lamenting on the above, sad enough, there are two types of road tolls in Ghana. The one managed by the Ministry of Highway (now abolished) and the other run by some unscrupulous police officers in some parts of the country. The truth is, doing away with the former does not completely take away road tolls in the country.

Some police officers in the country have run into the habit of scuffing money from almost any vehicle that passes by. Sometimes, it is just an eye-saw to see that rickety cars, overloaded vehicles, cars without the right papers, stolen cars and many others that need to be properly checked by the police get away by paying their way through. The irony is that some officers do not even ask for the required documents and things they are meant to ask or search for. They rather ask for money either directly or indirectly, jokingly or insistently, most often than not, this puts some drivers in a fix or an embarrassing situation.

Many accolades have been thrown out on our new Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr George Akuffo Dampare, for tightening a lot of needless gaps in the police department and ruthlessly fighting crime in Ghana. We have seen videos of how he even goes to some of these checkpoints to facilitate and encourage his subordinates. However, there is still a lot to be done as far as the “Second Road Toll” is concerned. Strategies should be mapped out to curtail that as well. If the laws are made to take their course and drivers who are found guilty of any traffic offence made to face the rigours of the law, it will serve as a deterrent to other

Drivers who are found guilty of a traffic offence and pay their way through are partners in crime. Today, the easiest and quickest response for most drivers found guilty of a traffic offence is to pay their way through and get away with the crime. However, that does not make anyone a respecter of the law. Let us help the police abolish the “Second Road Toll” in Ghana.

Source: Nicholas Nibetol Aazine, SVD

(Coordinator for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Ghana-Liberia Province)

Divine Word Missionaries: A Catholic Missionary Society or

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