By Alfred Dogbey
The Minister of Transport, Dzifa Aku Attivor, has been commended for her timely intervention and abrupt suspension of the controversial law by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), which created confusion, amidst strong protest by commercial drivers on Monday.
An independent organization, Democratic Institute of Ghana (DIG), said the Minister’s intervention was laudable, since it has restored calm to allow for further consultation and dialogue between the drivers and the DVLA.
DIG said, “we are happy that cool heads have prevailed in this matter and the Drivers have returned to work today”.
This is because, “Many among the ranks of Drivers are persons who unfortunately and through no faults of themselves had not had the level of formal education which the regulations in the LI demand”.
In a statement dated yesterday, June 2, and copied to The Herald, the Rector of the institute, E. M. N. Ametor-Quarmyne, noted that “We are not in the best of economic times and it is untenable that actions of state institutions, however, innocent they may be should put impediments on peoples ways when they try to rake in a modicum of livelihood”.
He advised that, “The much older Drivers above 50years could be excused while the DVLA with the cooperation of Drivers’ unions such as the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), the Progressive Transport Owners’ Association (PROTOA) and the Cooperative Transport Union dialogue to fashion out acceptable methods of education and retraining to enable their members meet the new requirements”.
According to him, even though “this certainly will take time and some financial resources which the unions, the Authority [DVLA] and the Ministry of Transport must find ways of putting together”, and everyone must “go back to the drawing board”.
He maintained, “dialogue, and mutual respect for the each other’s positions are the way forward to finding an amicable solution to the impasse”, adding “Let us find the middle ground in this matter”.
The Rector of DIG, observed that, the DVLA should also be commended “for heeding the public outcry which greeted the exercise and for quickly retreating in order to take a second hard look at the strategy for implementation of the law”.
Commercial drivers on Monday protested against what they termed unfriendly regulations to be implemented by the DVLA.
The suddenly formed association called the, committed drivers, left commuters stranded in Ashaiman, Nungua, Teshie and a few other parts of the country, as they refused to work.
They protested against the DVLA’s decision to enforce some regulations that were passed by Parliament in 2004.
The directives, introduced by the DVLA, among other things, include the need for all passengers in buses and taxis to wear seat belts and the need for drivers to attain a certain minimum level of education before they are allowed to drive.
The new directives provoked lots of anger amongst commercial drivers across the country. The drivers claimed it was virtually impossible to have all passengers strapped in seat belts, due to structural difficulties arising out of the how their vehicles were made.
Some of the protests turned violent, especially at Ashaiman, leading to the arrest of some thirty-three drivers for blocking roads and attempting to destroy property in Ashaiman, Teshie-Nungua, and its environs.
But according to the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) Chairman for Ashaiman, Alex Kyeremeh, all agitated commercial drivers, have been asked to resume work, following a decision by the DVLA to suspend the implementation until further notice.
According to Mr. Kyeremeh, he personally received a distress call from the DVLA Chief Executive confirming the latest development.
“Fortunately for us, the Chief Executive of the DVLA called me that Government has come out to day that the directive should be suspended immediately until further notice. So we are praying that they should all go back to their workplaces”.
The Transport Ministry had engaged in meetings over the development with all relevant stakeholders to find an amicable resolution.
The Vice-Chairman of the Transport Committee of Parliament, Tetteh Chaie, is urging calm in the wake of the violent protests that have greeted the implementation of the directives.
On the directive to drivers to acquire a minimum education before qualifying for a driver’s license, Tetteh Chaie explained to Accra-based Joy FM, that the law is not necessarily for the old drivers but for the new ones who are yet to be issued with driving licenses.
He regretted that some of the drivers cannot read and understand simple road signs, a phenomenon he noted was recipe for disaster.
He said as a nation some of these laws must be put in place to ensure we don’t lose money and human resource through needless deaths resulting from accidents.
Meanwhile, a former Commander of the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit of the Ghana Police Service, ACP Rtd Victor Tandoh, now a road safety campaigner, has told TV3, the regulation was not new, insisting the drivers were notified of this in 2004 when Parliament passed the laws.
He, however, believes there had not been ample education before the latest announcement to implement the policy.