Minister of Transport, Kweku Ofori Asiamah, has pulled a break on the implementation of the controversial DP Sticker numbering system by the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Authority’s (DVLA) boss, following accusation that, it had no endorsement from the sector Ministry, Board, the Police among others and above all, poses a national security risk.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority, Kwasi Agyeman Busia, is reported to have taken a unilateral decision to roll out the policy this year, without following proper procedure or the involvement of stakeholders, including getting Parliament to repeal sections of the Road Traffic Regulations.
But information picked up by The Herald, revealed that the Transport Minister, wrote a strongly worded letter to the DVLA boss to immediately halt the sticker system and revert to the DP number plates or write to the Transport Ministry, explaining the reason for the new policy to enable the Ministry to go to Parliament to have the law changed.
The order comes amidst a report from the DVLA that a company, had been awarded the contract to do the digitized stickers described as obscure, because they could hardly be seen by anyone much more the police.
Terms and conditions of the transaction, including the cost, company name, address and ownership are yet unknown, except a certain Abebrese of the DVLA being linked to it.
There are also snippets of information, saying a private bank account was opened for the DP stickers deal with the signatories also unknown. It is not clear, how much was realized until the Transport Minister stopped it.
On Monday’s January 20, 2020 edition of The Herald, the paper published the tension the decision has generated, leading to a frosty relationship between the Board Chairman of the DVLA, Frank Davies and the CEO, for running a one man show at the state institution.
But reacting to the publication on Accra-based Peace FM on Monday, CEO of Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) Kofi Kapito, who had previously spoken against the new policy through a press conference, revealed that the Minister has stopped the implementation of the policy and commended him for stamping his authority to ensure things were done right.
According to Kofi Kapito, Mr Agyeman Busia, aside unilaterally implementing the new policy, went ahead to open a new bank account different from the main DVLA account without the knowledge of key officials at the Authority, who should have been in the know, saying “Can we sit in Ghana for someone to take us for grant like that?”.
He went on to advice Ghanaians who were charged GHc199 during the period of the implementation of the digitized stickers, to go for a refund of GHc45.
He asked the DVLA CEO, to respect authority and do the needful by writing to the Minister, who will intend inform Parliament for the necessary arrangement to be made.
Confirming the directive by the Minister to stop the DVLA boss, Kofi Kapito, said when he went to the port to clear his vehicle just last Saturday; he was this time given a number plate, instead of the controversial digitized sticker.
“They have stopped! As at the time they went for their meeting and the Minister asked him to put it on paper, the reasons why he wants to change the law, so that he takes it to parliament. So as at the last management meeting, including the board, they have stopped.
Anyone who goes there today or tomorrow and he or she is given a sticker; tell the person the law says, it is plate not sticker”, he stressed.
He went on, “I will commend the Minister, I will commend the board that after their meeting, they have told Kwasi Busia that, if he wants to bring the stickers, he has to follow the law.Those who have been given power, must respect Ghanaians”.
Kofi Kapito, who lashed out the DVLA boss for being adamant and refusing good counsel, said the contract for the new sticker, according to him was signed last year.
In December, last year, the CPA boss, threatened to bring a court action against the DVLA, if the Authority does not backtrack on increments that it has slapped on the price for the acquisition of DV number plates, insisting that the increment by the DVLA, is unilateral and illegal, since neither Parliament nor the Minister of Finance, have approved it.
“The DV Plate is what allows you to drive the vehicle on the road. There is a fee which is authorized through Parliament or through the Minister of Finance. The total cost is Ghc154. the DVLA has actually raised it from 154 to 195. By law, no institution can levy or tax the people of this country without the proper channel of approving the tax or the levy which is either through the Minister of Finance or Parliament who says they pass the law that Ghanaians should be taxed.”
Addressing the press in Accra on Tuesday, December 24, 2019, Mr Kapito, explained that the said imposition of the levy, is in clear breach of the Road Traffic Regulation, LI 2180, which instructs vehicles being cleared at the ports to have metal plates and not a piece of sticker.
Mr Kapito, also pointed out that the DVLA is violating the law by issuing stickers to drivers in place of number plates.
“The other portion is actually the Act that talks about the plate, spells it out in clear language that it should be a plate, one in front,. One at the back the law hasn’t changed it from a plate to a sticker.”
He had warned that, if government does not direct the DVLA to backtrack on the increments, the CPA, will go to court for judicial compulsion against the Authority which last year made millions arresting drivers with fake stickers, because of frustrating bureaucratic delays in the acquisition of genuine number plates.
CPA described the move and the fees as illegal fees being charged for imported vehicles.
The CPA, insisted on a refund of the 23 percent extra charges which resulted in the statutory levy jumping from GHS154 to GHS190, which the DVLA has imposed on all owners of imported cars in exchange for a temporary clearance sticker.
Insurance charges overnight moved from GHC1 to GHC45 to the surprise of many.
“We will go to court to stop the DVLA and I am also saying that I have heard that they have started and I am going to ask the Minister to compel them to refund everybody’s money,” he stated.
At its first board meeting on January 9, 2020, Mr.Busia, The Herald was informed, was heavily reprimanded for embarking on such a major project.
He was also accused of ignoring the security implications that the non-use of the number plate pose to law enforcement, crime detection and prevention in the country.
The DP Sticker policy, The Herald was informed, had no approval from the Lawyer Frank Davies-led board, the Ministry of Transport, as well as the Ghana Police Service’s Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD).
The Herald’s checks, revealed that when the issue first came up at the Board meeting, Mr Busia, reportedly told the board that he went ahead to launch the stickers – which many have said can easily be faked with a simple computer and printing machine – after seeking a legal opinion from a lawyer friend of his.
This is said to have drawn venom from Lawyer Frank Davies and several other members of the board.
The DVLA boss is said to be the son of the NPP stalwart, Madam Ama Busia, who has President Akufo-Addo’s ears, hence has attained a status of an untouchable within the government circles and does things without consultation and approval of his board.
Indeed, Commissioner of Police (COP) Christian TettehYohuno, who is the current Director-General of the police MTTD, was reported to have first kicked against the policy, however, the DVLA boss, went ahead and procured computers and printing machines to implement it, ignoring all the security concerns raised by the police; major stakeholders in the operation of driver and vehicle licensing in the country.
Aside the stickers being easy to fake as was the case with the Luxury Vehicles Tax stickers, the DP sticker policy, is against the second schedule of the Road Traffic (Amendment) regulations1995 Li 1605, which specifies features expected on vehicle’s number plate, and these are missing on the DP stickers.
The DP sticker policy, has also been found to have flouted the Road Traffic Regulation 2012, LI 2180.
But this is not the first time Mr Busia, had implemented a controversial programme, placing the DVLA and the Akufo-Addo government in a bad light.
Not long ago, he authorized the sale of a First Aid Box in the name of the DVLA at an outrageous amount, thus opening up the Akufo-Addo government for a massive public backlash, until a directive was issued for the withdrawal of the policy.
The Herald, is also informed that, Mr Busia, was the proponent of the controversial Luxury Vehicles Tax on cars with engine capacities of 2.9 litres and above and just like the First Aid Boxes in the cars, the Akufo-Addo government was eventually forced to scrap the controversial Luxury Vehicle Tax exactly a year after its introduction in response to opposition from several institutions, including the Car Rental Association of Ghana.
It was argued that between August and December 2018, only GH¢21.3million was realised from implementing the tax – far below the GH¢104million that was projected to be collected within the period.
Vehicles with engine capacities of between 2.9 – 3.5 litres attracted an annual tax of GH¢1,000; those with engine capacities of 3.6 – 4.0 litres paid GH¢1,500 annually; while 4.1 litre engine vehicles and above paid GH¢2000.
The DVLA had on Christmas day, announced the digitized smart DP Sticker, saying it was as part of the government paperless agenda at the various ports of entry to replace the existing DP plates in use.
The authority, had hidden behind Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia’s digitization agenda for the Ghanaian economy, as crucial plank of the “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda.
The DVLA boss, believes that the introduction of the DP Sticker was in line with this agenda, and would help with further blocking of any revenue leakages associated with this essential service at the port.
He also had described the sticker as environmentally friendly, with high security features, and can be validated easily by law enforcement agents and also, increases revenue assurance through high accountability.
The price of the new digitized DVLA DP sticker was same, as the number plate.
The Herald, findings are that the issuance of the stickers flout the second schedule of the Road Traffic (Amendment) regulations1995 Li 1605 which states that “the identification mark registered in respect of a vehicle shall be embossed on the metal plate consisting of 99 percent aluminium and laid with 95 percent silver reflective sheeting or coating and of the thickness of 1 mm and hardness of temper 14(h14)”.
Additionally, the Road Traffic Regulation 2012, LI 2180 states that “where a person registers a motor vehicle or trailer, the Licensing Authority shall assign an identification mark in respect of the motor vehicle or trailer, adding “the identification mark shall be carried by the motor vehicle on two plates which shall conform to the requirements of the second schedule”.