Feature Article of Monday, 12 December 2011
Columnist: Otchere Darko
By Otchere Darko
*[Readers who are not sure about this writer and get confused about his name and identity may please read the information placed at the bottom of this article.]
Re: “We are going to come out with a new law that will ban the importation of second vehicles into Ghana,” she [Sherry Aryeetey] said. “We’ve done a lot of research into these areas.” [Culled from Ghanaweb General News of Saturday, 10 December 2011; Source: Joy Online]
The quotation above by Environment Minister Sherry Aryeetey, if true, is a piece of good news for Ghana, except that a ban on importation of [ALL] second-hand vehicles would be a step too far, too harsh and too unnecessary.
What the Government should do is to ban the importation of second-hand vehicles that are above a certain specified age. I have written a couple of times in the past and have suggested that the Government should ban the importation of overused vehicles ; that is, those vehicles that have been used outside Ghana for over five or ten years, depending on make and type; or those vehicles that have done more than seventy-five thousand miles on the road. Apart from the damage they do to our environment, old vehicles are also a major cause of road accidents and deaths arising from them.
A ban on the importation of old second-hand vehicles will not be complete, unless the Government bans the importation of second-hand spare parts also. If the Government fails to ban the importation of second-hand spare parts, in addition to any ban on the importation of old second-hand vehicles, dealers in second-hand vehicles will beat the ban by buying and dismantling such second-hand vehicles before shipping them to Ghana as spare parts, [but only to be re-assembled].
Apart from beating any ban on importation of second-hand vehicles, second-hand spare parts pose additional risks. While the ages of second-hand vehicles can easily be known, the ages of vehicle spare parts and components cannot be known and that [absence of information on age] makes second-hand spare parts more unreliable and excessively more dangerous to use than using second-hand vehicles per-se. In other words, driving an imported second-hand vehicles is dangerous, but driving an imported second-hand vehicle that is regularly repaired with second-hand spare-parts or vehicle components whose ages and records of use are unknown makes matters even worse.
For a ban on importation of old second-hand vehicles and ‘home-used’ spare-parts to work, the Government must encourage automobile manufacturing companies to set up vehicle assembling and spare parts/components manufacturing plants in Ghana to produce cheaper and locally suitable vehicles and spare-parts that will appeal to Ghanaian drivers and vehicle buyers, and thereby induce them to switch to the use of new vehicles and spare-parts to help reduce environmental pollution and vehicle break-downs that lead to road accidents. Apart from encouraging Ghanaians to stop importing second-hand vehicles and spare-parts, if new vehicles and spare parts were produced and obtained locally, the local plants that produced them would provide employment for Ghanaians and help them to develop the technical know-how that could form the basis for Ghana’s technological development and advancement.
Conclusion: I strongly urge the Government to go ahead and ban the importation of second-hand vehicles; but only those that have exceeded specified ages or mileages should be banned. To make such a ban solid and unbeatable, the Government must, in addition, ban the importation of all forms of second-hand vehicle spare-parts and components, including [and especially] second-hand tyres.
Source: Otchere Darko; [Personal Political Views].
*About the Author: [This appendage is for the information of only readers who confuse this writer with another or other columnist[s] using the same set of Ghanaian names. Ignore this appendage, if you are not one of such readers.]
*This writer is just one of hundreds, and possibly thousands of Ghanaians who use the name “Otchere Darko” or its variant spelling “Okyere Darko”, either on its own or in combination with other names. This writer, who has officially used this simple two-part name from his school days to university and after, attended the School of Administration of University of Ghana, where he finally completed in September 1977........ [the year that students embarked on the UNIGOV demonstration]. This writer has never, before or after September 1977, been a student of the Ghana Law School. He is also not working [and has never worked] for the Danquah Institute. He is currently not a member of the New Patriotic Party, or any other political party registered in Ghana. *Readers who mistake this writer for another or other user[s] of the same name, please take note of this clarification and stop drawing conclusions that sometimes lead you to attack the wrong person. Thank you for taking note.