Politician, Medical Practitioner and Author, Dr. Kobina Arthur Kennedy is musing over how a parliament of Ghana came to approve a Legislative Instrument that hands one company the job to tow vehicles against the express intents of the national procurement law.
Below is the full write-up by Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy
THE MANDATORY TOW LEVY
Following public protests, the executive arm of government has decided NOT to implement the above LI, passed in 2012– 5 years ago.
According to a statement, this followed extensive consultation between the Minister and “stakeholders” in the transport sector. In such times, there is a temptation to celebrate this triumph of commonsense over governance and move on. We must not. As former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel used to say, “this crisis must not go to waste”. We must learn from it and harvest the lessons.
This decision, while popular, raises important issues about our governance.
First, can the executive shelf or implement laws at its will and discretion? If it can refuse to implement laws based on bad policy, could it also refuse to implement laws based on sound policy it does not like?
Indeed, this has happened before. The NDC governments in the past have continued to underwrite celebrations of June 4th and 31st December, despite laws and court rulings barring such conduct.
Second, as Dr. Nduom pointed out, provision was made in the 2004 Road Traffic Act (683) for dealing with abandoned vehicles. Why were those provisions not enforced? What was the rationale for the 2012 LI containing the mandatory levy? Was there any consultation with stakeholders? Who are the stakeholders in this case?
Third, what is the role of the National Road Safety Commission in all this? If one-in-five deaths on our roads are due to abandoned vehicles, why have they waited 5 years to implement the mandatory levy of 2012 or 12 years to implement the more sensible provisions of the Road Traffic Act? Has the NRSC been negligent in protecting the public? Have our loved ones perished on the roads due to negligence?
Fourth, how does Parliament pass laws? Elsewhere, the outcry that led the government to abandon this LI would have occurred BEFORE the passage of the LI. How did parliament award a contract to one company in a law? Was that not a breach of our national procurement laws? Why has Parliament not acted through executive oversight to protect the public?
We must not let this crisis go to waste. It seems the best days of Parliament in this Republic are behind us. The 1997–2001 Parliament that counted in its ranks J.H. Mensah, Akufo-Addo, Hawa Yakubu, Apraku, Bagbin, Mahama and others would never have stood for this mandatory tow levy. It seems we are exchanging quantity for quality in our legislation. Ghana deserves better.
We must have a Parliament as good and vigilant as the people but sadly, we do not.
We can and must do better.