Bringing people together to improve communication of research findings
Extortion of money, delays and controls on the roads in West Africa are said to be major challenges in the transport industry. These challenges do not only undermine the efforts of sub-regional leaders in realising the goals of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of goods and services but affect inter-state trade. Fortunately a research conducted in the second quarter of this year by the Improved Road Transport Governance, an ECOWAS and USAID Organisation, West Africa Trade Hub indicates a reduction in the number of controls, delay time and bribery cases along the Tema-Ouagadougou corridor among other West African routes. This may imply that the next time you are flagged down by the security agencies on the road you may not be made to pay bribe. Correspondent Dominic Hlordzi has being examining the findings and has filed this report for Ghana Today.
PLAY LIB.FILE (DH-BRIBERY ON THE ROADS)
Intro: DomBRIBERY ON THE ROAD
The Research conducted between the second quarter of 2009 and the same period this year, indicates a reduction in the collection of bribes from truck drivers on the highways in the West African sub region by security agencies. According to the report, Ghana’s rate reduced from eight Ghana Cedis last year to six Ghana Cedis per one hundred kilometres this year. The Rates in Mali lessened to 12 Ghana Cedis this year from 33 Ghana Cedis in 2009 whiles that of Senegal decreased from 15 to nine Ghana Cedis for the same period. In the words of the Transport Director of the West African Trade Hub, Neil Rasmussen within the period, Ghana reduced the delays in its trucking system from 21 to 13minutesvg per one hundred kilometres. To some long distance drivers the survey report does not paint the true picture on the roads.
Dom:-Yakubu Adams and his colleagues were relaxing under their trucks at the Tema Port listening to football commentary on radio as they wait for their agents to finish the necessary processes before they embark on another journey to Burkina Faso. He tells me bribery is a bane to the transport industry.
The bribery is too much, especially we trailer trucks (drivers), we are suffering too much. You get up, your car owner will give you three hundred thousand cedis(30 Ghana cedis –dollar) and you give all to police,why? And they pay you a month, how is police collecting and driver you go to the road they will pay you two million cedis (two hundred cedis)and you take all and give all to police, why . We are suffering too much. They are not doing the right thing , if you are doing the right thing they say if a driver commits a crime you charge him, there is a limit charge and you pay to government account, they will give you receipt. Next time you will not repeat on that but they use it as a force… this thing. They are treating us badly.
Dom:-Mohammed Ghani is the executive secretary of the Ghana haulage transport drivers association. He confirmed the survey report which indicates a reduction in the cases of bribery and calls for efforts to curtail the menace on the roads.
Mohammed Ghani: For what trade Hub has said it is true that has reduced a bit but if the checks and balances are not continued it may come back again.
Dom: So how is bribery on the road affecting businesses in West Africa?
It affects businesses because it adds up to the transport cost. When you look at your road expenses and you factor in the extortions by the security services then apparently you have to add that to you transport cost and you will end up by increasing the freight charge and ultimately it goes to affect the consignee or goods owner and then he transfer it back to the consumer.
Dom: now we know of the ECOWAS protocol which talks about the free movement of goods and services within the sub region, what is happening to with regards to check points?
Have we had a reduction say from here (Ghana) to Nigeria or from here to Burkina Faso?
I will talk on Burkina Faso. For instance by the ECOWAS protocol and the interstate road transit we were supposed from tema to paga transit corridor (in Ghana) we were supposed to have four mandated barriers, police check points but that is what is on paper but apparently it is not like that and then people can come out and with all manner of justification that we are doing security checks and then before you know it then becomes another barrier. So on paper it should be four but what we have they are more than ten. So we are not in tandem with the rules and principles of the ECOWAS protocol. For instance, if you go to Burkina Faso, they have been able to put them in place and from the entrance to the exit with Mali you have only two but in Ghana we are supposed to have four but that is not the case. The police feature prominently on this because we have the MTTU on the way. They can come out it is not a barrier but they can stop you at any point on the transit corridor to the check you. So that is why they feature prominently. We have Customs which deals with basically the cargo and if you have your cargo documentation with you they could just look at it and then they allow you to go. But there are instances he may unnecessarily delay you and then you can part with something just to let you go but that one is not so prominent with regard to MTTU because Custom cannot just stand at any point. They have nominated barriers.
Dom:The officer in charge of the tema regional police public relations unit chief inspector Olivia Turkson says the police administration is implementing result oriented strategies which are promoting professionalism among personnel.
Olivia: What the Police have adopted for that matter the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit. They have tried to let the men (police officers) before they go on road report at the office to be briefed before they go out for their duties. The briefing entails advising and educating them on how they treat drivers they meet on the road. It shouldn’t always be as to effecting an arrest but where offences are minor they can equally advise the drivers and then issue out warning letter where necessary to them and these things are helping in the collaboration between Police and the drivers on our roads.
Secondly the officers have adopted this style, they make sure each team is supervised by an inspector or chief inspector who closely monitor these men ensuring that they discharge their duties as mandated by the law and nothing else. And
Thirdly the police administration itself has adopted this style, that he who goes to the road and misconducts himself unprofessional will be exposed. The person will not only be exposed to the public but will also be sanctioned under the law where necessary. All these strategies have helped the police in their performance as far as the duties are concerned especially the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit and these times round we are kind of winning the public favour based on the education programmes we run for them. When I get the opportunity and I go out for media interviews I try as much as possible to talk to the drivers that when a policeman stops you and you know you have erred and you are trying to give out something to the policeman or the policeman is demanding something from you and you give it out you are equally guilty. This thing is also working out for us and we are saying it is not always about arrest, arrest, arrest where necessary, when the offence is minor we offer advice and we warn, we take note of the driver the number of that particular car so that the next time you repeat that same offence, you will be held responsible. These are some of the kind of things we are doing. Help us project the positive aspect of policing and not only the negative aspect of policing and we are trying as much as possible to win the confidence of the public as part of our efforts in the five year strategic plan that was recently dedicated.
Back to Mohammed Ghani:
Dom: Per the laws of Ghana, when it comes to bribery, the frowns upon the giver and the receiver what are you doing as a union to educate your drivers to stop giving money to security agencies?
Mohammed: That is true; the law frowns on the giver and the taker. The giver is as guilty as the receiver but in this transport business, you know time is money. When you have quick time turn over then you can increase your profit margin. The police then use the aspect of delay to sort of frustrate you and then you are giving it as a necessary evil to facilitate your business. You know that it is not good but within the context that if you do not part away with Ghana Cedis, you may be delayed for a day which in monetary terms affects you a lot.
Dom: so in this case will somebody be right in saying that bribery is like grease in the transport industry?
Mohammed: Yea! To some extent one can say so because once parting away with one Ghana cedi or two Ghana Cedis can give you the fluidity of traffic then we can say is grease but the onus lies on the police personnel to be on guide and use the good offices to enforce the laws and not to use it to extort money.
Dom: If that is the case bribery or corruption on the road is the grease to enhancing smooth movement of goods and service can bribery be stopped?
Mohammed: It can but there should be the good will to do it. Let me give another example, if you are able to a police officers number or any information that he has extorted some money from you, immediately, you mention it to the authority without even verifying they will tell you it is not true. The police and the higher authority want to defend their integrity without necessarily looking at the behavioural trait of a personnel. They should look at it as an individual within the police service that are bringing the police good name into disrepute.
So if they take that line, we will be on the course to eradicating the cancer.
ANN: Mohammed Ghani, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Haulage Transport Drivers Association, ending that report by Correspondent Dominic Hlordzi on the reduction of bribery cases on our roads.
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