Charges Illegal Tolls Higher Than Motorway
Authorities at the University of Ghana (UG), Ghana’s premier University, last Saturday became “law and order” unto themselves, when they started charging tolls from drivers who use the campus roads, despite Government and public concerns about its legality.
The situation led to massive traffic at the main entrance of the University, whose officials led by Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, is paid from the Consolidated Fund.
What is even shocking is that the issue of the legality or otherwise of the toll is in the court of law for determination.
What is worse is that the illegal tolls the UG charges are higher than what is collected on the Accra-Tema Motorway, Tema-Aflao Highway, Tema-Afeinya-Atimpoku Bridge, as well as Kasoa-Cape Coast Highway.
President of the Students Representative Council (SRC), Eric Edem Agbana said, the situation was chaotic and abysmal.
“If you come to the UG campus now, the traffic situation that is here is very bad, because the toll that is located around the ‘’Okponglo’’ entrance [Main gate] is causing massive traffic; because the traffic light can give you a green signal but because of the way and manner in which they are collecting the tolls, they have blocked the road…”
In an interview with Citi News, he further stated that, “the structures are not ready and because the structures are not ready you have some young people lined up on the streets holding tickets and they are selling before you can enter the campus.”
Mr. Agbana, questioned how drivers are to know the authenticity of the tickets. “Where lies even accountability, what is the assurance that people are not even duplicating tickets they are giving out; this thing is not even done properly, it is so abysmal.”
The UG, which has Kofi Annan, ex-Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) as its Chancellor, announced that effective February 1, 2014 “private vehicles are to pay GH¢1 while taxis and commercial vehicles will pay GH¢2. Heavy duty trucks are to pay 3 Ghana Cedis at the University’s toll booth per entry.”
The publication by the University incurred public criticism, with legal practitioners questioning the legality of the school’s decision.
The SRC of the University organized an emergency meeting to that effect, calling on its stakeholders and Government to come on board and abolish the introduction of the road tolls by the University Authorities.
“We are calling on the Government to come in and regulate some of these things because we are in a society that is being governed by a Government. We are calling on all stakeholders, Government, University Management, to reconsider their stand within the shortest possible time,” President of the SRC, Mr. Agbana stated.
But the University Authorities, responded by saying that they have to charge the tolls to pay for a loan they took from the bank in constructing and maintaining the roads on campus.
Meanwhile, students of the UG, have hinted of a possible demonstration on campus, following the implementation of toll charges for all users of the roads on campus.
Last Friday, Authorities of the University called the bluff of the public, insisting that motorists, who cannot pay tolls to ply the university roads, should find alternative routes.
“The public does not have to use the university roads; there are alternative roads,” Akyea Afreh Arhin, Legal Counsel for the University, made these comments last Friday on Joy FM Super Morning Show.
There is, however, a strong public rejection by members of the public notably, lawyer Egbert Fabille, who said that the move was illegal, because it does not have parliamentary approval.
According to Mr. Fabille, Legon will be setting a bad precedent if it goes ahead to implement the decision without having it approved by the legislature.
“What about if one day, looking at this UG example, Korlebu Teaching Hospital gets up and says that…it is introducing a tolling system without going through proper legislative approval?”
“…You will see pockets of taxation all over Ghana and very soon nobody will be able to go anywhere in Ghana unless you pay,” lawyer Fabille cautioned.
Last Friday, court bailiffs serve the suit on the university.
Government has meanwhile described the tolls as illegal when it was first proposed.
The students, have also argued that they have been billed by the university Authorities for the road, thus wondered why taxis transporting them to and from should also be paying the tolls.
It is also unclear, whether the University will stop charging the tolls after settling its indebtedness to the bank, where it’s collected the loans to fix the roads or will still want to raise money to pay its staff, getting off the consolidated fund.