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Amoako Atta jumps ahead of Parliament; stops road tolls without 2022 budget approval

The Minister of Roads and Highways has shockingly rushed to direct the immediate discontinuation of toll collection on all public roads and bridges across the country.

Kwasi Amoako Atta’s directive came hours after the Finance Minister presented the 2022 budget statement and economic policy to be pursued next year by the Akufo-Addo government.

Interestingly, Parliament is yet to debate the government’s decision to scrap the road toll throughout the country, a good source of revenue into the state kitty.

Government is now targeting Mobile Money transactions to raise revenue according to the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta who announced the scrapping of tolls on all public roads yesterday.

The statement signed by Amoako-Attah is to take effect from Thursday, November 18, 2021, at 12:00am.

“The Ministry of Roads and Highways hereby directs the cessation of the collection of road and bridge tolls at all locations nationwide.”

He stated that Police personnel from the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) are to be stationed at various toll booths to provide security.

Meaning the toll booths are now going to serve as police barriers to inconvenience road users.

In the meantime, the statement has urged motorists to obey the instructions of the security agents.

“The motoring public will be advised of further measures in due course”, the release further said.

Mr. Ofori-Atta, before Parliament on Wednesday, claimed that the Akufo-Addo government has observed that toll booths are doing more harm than good, hence the need to remove them.

He claimed, toll booths cause heavy traffic and negatively impact productivity.

The decision is to take effect with the approval of the budget.

“To address these challenges, the government has abolished all tolls on public roads and bridges. This takes effect immediately after the budget is approved,” the Finance Minister said.

He noted that persons manning the various toll booths will be reassigned by the government.

Those collecting the tolls are employees of private companies and it’s unclear what parting arrangements the government has made with them ahead of this decision.

Again, it’s unclear how many workers, including some 74 persons with disability (PWDs) recruited in 2017 to work at toll booths across the country, will lose their jobs from this decision.

Ahead of the budget reading, there were speculations that the government may increase road tolls as it seeks to raise domestic revenue.

Some also suggested the removal of the tolls to be replaced with a one-time payment at the point of vehicle road-worthy renewals.

The monies raised from tolls are typically meant for fixing and maintaining public roads.

Some have argued that the road tolls have failed to help in improving the state of roads in the country and rather leading to nuisances such as traffic congestion.

Ken Ofori-Atta in presenting the budget said, although the tolls were helping in fixing and maintaining roads, the benefits of not having them currently outweighs their purpose.

“Our roads need fixing. Our roads are being fixed. It is true that more roads have been fixed and are being fixed over the last five years than any relative period in the entire history of our nation. We even want to do a lot more and this budget will cater for this. That is why for decades, Government after Government imposed and maintained tolls on some public roads to raise funds for road construction and maintenance.”

“This is the situation in many countries. However, over the years, the tolling points have become unhealthy market centres, led to heavy traffic on our roads, lengthened travel time from one place to another, and impacted negatively on productivity.

The congestion generated at the tolling points, besides creating these inconveniences, also leads to pollution in and around those vicinities,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, in the absence of the road tolls, the government has introduced an electronic transaction levy of 1.75 percent on MoMo and other electronic transactions.

It has also announced a 15 percent increase in the cost of all government services.

Many have suggested that the government is playing mind games with the people and will bring back the road tolls by having DVLA collect it at the point of vehicle examination and licensing.

Some Kumasi commercial transport operators have described scrapping road tolls as irrelevant and rather want fuel prices reduced. They argued that most of them don’t use the tolled roads hence would not benefit from the move.

Others have also suggested that the government is only baiting Ghanaians to support the charges it’s seeking to slap on the mobile money transactions after which the road tolls would be brought back.

Meanwhile, the Minority side in Parliament made of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has indicated they won’t agree to government taxing MOMO, but many Ghanaians remain skeptical about this promise from the NDC members.



Source: The Herald


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