Editorial: Road tolls: Minority must review hypocritical stance

The Chronicle, like many other institutions and individuals, never supported the hasty withdrawal of the road toll by the government. We did not support the idea, because at the time of the withdrawal, the road tolls were fetching GH¢72 million annually from the 38 toll booths across the country. On a daily basis, we were reportedly raking in GH¢199, 260. Records indicate that the country has lost a whopping GH¢90 million since the collection of the road tolls was ceased.

Apparently, the government took this ill-informed decision to close down the toll booths because of the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy) it was about to introduce at the time. The government had estimated to collect over GH¢3 billion if the 1.75% of the charge imposed on the new tax had gone through.

But instead of waiting to do all the consultations to ensure that the new levy and the accompanying 1.75% rate had been accepted by both Parliament and the general public, the Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr. Amoako-Atta, just gave a fiat that the collection of the tolls on our roads should cease.

As a result of this singular decision by the Roads Minister, we have lost GH¢90 million, which could have been used to construct some kilometres of roads. This is the reason why we used this column last week Thursday to commend the government for taking the decision to re-introduce the road toll levy. We had indicated that almost every country on planet Earth collects road tolls, and that the government’s decision to stop was wrong.

But, whilst majority of the people who know the benefits of road tolls are applauding the government for her latest decision, the Minority members in Parliament who strongly protested against the cessation of the road tolls are surprisingly kicking against its re-introduction. According to them, if the road toll is being re-introduced, then the government must first abolish the E-Levy.

The argument of the Minority is that the collection of the road toll was stopped because of the introduction of the E-Levy, and since the latter is still operational, they do not see the wisdom in bringing back the former. Though the collection of the road toll was, indeed, stopped because of the E-Levy, the truth also is that the target of GH¢3.4 billion was missed, because the initial rate was slashed from 1.75% to the current 1%.

In our opinion, therefore, the Minority cannot use that barometer to justify their rejection of the road tolls. Yes, we agree that in every democracy the minority plays a critical role, but it must inure to the benefit of the country. Looking at the current huge budget deficit facing the country, the Minority can never conjure magic and turn things around without resorting to some of these tax measures should they assume the reins of power in 2025.

Clearly, the Minority should not be thinking about how to grab power alone without looking at the welfare of the state. The Chronicle is, therefore, pleading with them to soften their stance and support the re-introduction of the road toll. This is not the time to drag on with issues as it happened to the E-Levy, because it will not help the country.

In our opinion, what they should rather be concentrating on is the passage of a law that will force the hands of the government to direct the revenues accruing from the road toll into construction of roads only.

Thousands of cedis are collected from motorists using the Accra–Tema Motorway each day, but the road, which was constructed over fifty years ago, is virtually a death trap now. The revenues are being diverted into something else, instead of serving its original purpose. This is the major issue The Chronicle wants the Minority side in Parliament to address, instead of making political capital out of the situation by rejecting the toll all together.


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