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Opinions of Friday, 14 April 2017

Columnist: The National Forum

Mafia at DVLA

There is a big complex age long Mafia at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, DVLA. It is an over 30-year old syndicate which spun both the Military and Civilian governments we have had since the 1970s. It began when the NRC regime introduced a revolution in the vehicle industry. Ghana moved from left-hand driving to the right-hand driving we have today under the Acheampong regime.

With the removal of the monopoly over the production and issuance of vehicular number plates this Mafia has gained even greater and complicated roots.

The operation of the DVLA Mafia include non-compliance with specific standards in terms of the exact metal to be used. Instead of aluminium (DVLA approved) they resort to using cheap metals that breach all the international standards that vehicular number plates should meet. This development occurs as most of the approved companies have no installed machines at the DVLA stations contrary to regulations.

In a telephone interview with the DVLA Manager for the Tamale station, Mr Frank Gasese, he was emphatic that duplicate issuance of number plates could not happen officially admitting however that it could only outside the official realm. The duplication arises when different embossment companies produce the same quota of number plates – a ploy employed to pay more companies than those who actually do the work.

He detailed that officially he had four Embossment Companies within his jurisdiction namely; Babyface, Bemenco, Original and Adolf Sievers Embossment Companies. Any Embossment company that claimed to cut number plates for the Tamale station outside these four are simply engaging in criminality. He cited an instance where he stopped plates from a company based in Accra unknown to his office which purported to have produced them for his station.

It is becoming clear that this syndicate is deeply entrenched and include persons within the top notch of the DVLA. Our source at the DVLA indicate that the NEW CEO, Kwasi Agyemang Busia acting with the full support of the Transport Minister, Hon. Kwaku Asiamah is working hard to stop this Mafia. He has the backing of the majority of vehicle owners TNF spoke to in relation to this story.

Already, our investigation reveal attempts at blackmailing the new CEO and hiding files from his view which might expose the Mafia. The most deadly aspect of their schemes is the payment of plates issued to the Authority by vendor companies. Instead of receiving payment for the exact numbers produced, they are paid indirectly through an Association of Embossment Companies which is unregistered thus lacking legal authority.

TNF special research desk sighted documentation to the effect that the unregistered Association shares money paid to them by DVLA among member companies including 'ghost' names unknown to the Authority. For example, in January 2017, whereas the Authority issued payment for the four (4) known companies in the Tamale station, the proceeds were shared among seven (7) companies. The identities of the additional three could only be known to the heads of the syndicate.

Our investigations further revealed that there is under reporting of number plates sold at the Authority in compare to number plates produced in order to cut down the amount payable to government coffers.

With these revelations against the backdrop of claims of missing vehicles with untraceable or hard to find identities, TNF spoke to car owners who expressed fear that they could lose vehicles easily if this syndicate is not stopped.

Our investigations also show that the new CEO is quietly dealing with this matter which he inherited. As to the level of penetration of the syndicate in the organization one cannot be sure. But the offices that immediately cannot escape mention are some two Directors (Names withheld), and an Assistant Director (name withheld).

The activities of the syndicate come directly under their lenses every day and monthly especially as they instruct on how payment should be made. What we find worrying is why DVLA fails to deal directly with embossment companies it contracts but instead liaises with an illegal entity to complete legally entered contracts.

TNF is keenly working to unearth the secret knobs in the vehicle registration process in Ghana. We assure readers of more unfolding schemes which not only undermine our revenue mobilization but seriously bother on the security of the State and the citizenry.