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Opinions of Thursday, 31 August 2017

Columnist: Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh

Yentua averted

Proverbially, it was all music in my years when I read cabinet has pooh-poohed the idea of a tow tax administered by a private company operating with public funds.

Like many of my compatriots, I never heard of that PPP type. The defence of it I heard on radio was at best feeble. Saving lives, yes; but not robbing us of our little pension money because you THINK you may save lives. I could sense yentua all over.

It looks like cabinet also sensed it. So it’s rightly saying a tow levy to service people who should pay their own way to defray liability they have imposed on the public should take responsibility. If your vehicle has to be towed, I should not pay for it. You should pay for your broken down vehicle to be towed. No free towing service here. Expending on free SHS is enough. We cannot add another expense of free towing.

It’s sadly permanently etched somewhere in my memory. A young vibrant Old Vandal (former JCR president) bubbling with live guy drove into a parked articulator somewhere on the Accra-Kumasi road some years back. He painfully lost his life. In the days when I used to drive in the night, I would encounter these huge trailers without lights.

Only a couple of months ago, one nearly killed me by ramming into my south-south jalopy at the Nkawkaw bypass dual carriage end point. The driver suddenly turned left without indicating. Trailers park there wantonly! Climbing to the Anloga Oforikrom junction is trailer stuck points with stationary long vehicles baiting motorists to their death.

I have lived in places where towing was the job of AAAs; Alberta Automobile Association (alongside CAA, Canadian Automobile Association) and the Australian Automobile Association. I suspect an American Automobile Association too, driving through northern USA from east to west. I can’t confirm though, because I have never lived in America.

The point is that these are voluntary associations which collect membership fees for common use in times of the motorist needing relief. They would come and start your car when it stalls or your battery is weak especially during cold weather times. But most importantly and as relates to towing, you could always count on them to tow your stalled vehicle without charge.

They would not have anything to do with helping you with towing if it involved parking or other driving infractions. You would pay heavy fees for those. I have an example, once in Edmonton, I had parked my car in a 2-hour limitation zone on the university campus while teaching. The car had disappeared when I went to collect it at the end of the class.

Panicking, I rushed to the security to report. The officer just laughed and handed me a piece of card adding I should call the number. It was towing company directing me to where to pick up the car. When I arrived there, I had to pay the towing fee even though I hadn’t asked them to tow my car. I had exceeded the 2-hour parking limit.

That is the contract the one seeking to tow cars privately secures. Let someone award you that contract, if you think there is money to be made in towing to save lives. Otherwise you advocate motorists’ responsibility to tow their stalled vehicles to save lives. Indeed, if you are that keen about saving lives through towing, you can lead in organising a GAA (Ghana Automobile Association) of a cooperative or an association that VOLUNTARILY contributes to help members with towing. You don’t hoodwink anyone into a huhudious operation of towing levy.

The cabinet move is a timely move to forestall an imminent yentua tow levy revolt. That would have been made to have unnecessarily disrupted a determined president’s agendum to change by building to transform for the common good. Let that agenda stay on course, focused on achieving what others forgot about in national leadership. Let improving the lives of my compatriots and mine through job creation, a revamped national health insurance scheme and free high schooling be pursued relentlessly in optimism.

Great ideas are great when they are implemented in honesty and with grace. An unwelcome poll tax or lampoo type yentua a luta has been averted. Let an alternative system of justice and fairness in preventing stalled vehicle-related accidents be quickly fashioned out and implemented. Not a single tow related accident should happen for people to blame it on our refusal to support creating a chop chop tow tax to feed the insatiable appetite of the chop chop compatriots always hungry and ready to devise means for chop chop.

Service before pay is often what public business/procurement does. Pay before service is strictly private business. No hatching chop chop scheme with tow tax.