`Re-possess Ghana AirwaysTraining School`
THE DAILY Graphic of 16/08/06 carried a story headlined 'DVLA acquires new property'.
In that story, Mr. Joseph Osei Owusu, the Chief Executive Officer of the DVLA was reported to have explained that the current site of the DVLA was congested and therefore not congenial for planning and other activities of the board of authority, hence, the acquisition of the former Ghana Airways Training School.
In that same story, one Mr. Eric Nana Nipah, described as a consultant with the Price Water House Coopers, the official liquidators of Ghana Airways Landing Properties, also revealed that there were about eight bidders for the Ghana Airways Training School and the DVLA emerged 'the best Bidder' (Emphasis mine). While he disclosed that the DVLA had made Full Payment (Emphasis mine), he declined to disclose the value of the property. Why, or who is this Consultant afraid of?
The Daily Graphic of Monday July 31, 2006 also has a story headlined 'Minister not happy with consultancy'. According to the story, the Minister of Water Resources Works and Housing MR Hackman Owusu Agyeman at an annual seminar of the Quantity Survey Division of the Ghana Institute of Surveyors (GIS) in Accra deplored the attitude of some consultants who connive with contractors to inflate contract sums 'to the detriment of projects'.
It is not exactly clear what Mr. Nipah, the Price Water House Coopers Consultant means by describing the DVLA as 'the best bidder'. It is however a known fact that a best bidder is not necessarily the highest bidder. But whatever criteria used in evaluating the bids, it is almost clear that the DVLA should be the last organization to be considered for that parcel of land. Not only a serene and plush residential area but also the land is also very close to the West African Examination Council's Examination Centre too.
Are we to suppose that the numerous vehicles Number Plate fabricators, the Head Light Testers, the Ophthalmologists, the numerous sellers, traders and hangers-on would also not join the train to the new site? Others not too charitable have hastily described the scene at the Accra DVLA as not too different from Kokompe. And these people may not be totally wrong.
The claim that it is only the Administrative staff including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who will actually move to the new site whilst the rest remain at the old still is, to say the least, not convincing. If this claim is true, then the plot will be hugely under utilized making a complete waste of the 1.5-acre plot and, maybe, adequately unfair to the other alleged seven bidders who lost the 'fierce competition'.
Again, it is not the absence of the Administrative staff from the old site that can significantly reduce the congestion engulfing the compound. After all, the core work at the DVLA is not done by the Administrators. Which means that majority of the traders, sellers, Number plate fabricators and hangers-on will remain at the old site. It is to be expected that even the few spaces that will be created by the departure of their colleagues to the new site will immediately be filled by new-comers including Pastors and churches even compounding and bloating the congestion.
Rather than allowing DVLA to hoodwink the unsuspecting public with porous arguments over the acquisition of the Ghana Airways Training School, it is a fact that the DVLA in its present Form, Structure and Functions will always bring in its trail needless congestion with its attendant crime and sanitation problems even when accommodated at the Accra Sports Stadium. So what is the way forward?
Needless and Avoidable Congestion
Unlike our local DVLA which has amassed all duties, (Registration of vehicles, Issuing of drivers license and its renewal and Vehicle Inspection) under one roof and one Chief Executive thereby causing needless and avoidable congestion, in the USA, for example, The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in most States separates these functions under different Departments and Heads. Significantly, Vehicle Inspection has been divested to the numerous State approved Emissions Garages, which are privately owned. Indeed in the State of Hawaii, the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) is even not a Government Department. Again, the American system even allows drivers to renew their driving licenses on-line. Would it be too much delegating a routine exercise like the renewal of driving licenses to Post Offices?
Again, unlike our situation where every vehicle is tested every year instigating noise, long time wait and congestion at the DVLA, in the USA the three most recent model year vehicles, whether new or used, are exempt from emission inspections. For example, in the year 2006, model years 2003-2006 are exempted from emission test.
Therefore to ease the congestion at the DVLA, we should engage very good Private Garages in town to do the Inspection, revert the licensing and registration of Vehicles to the Police while the DVLA issues road worthiness certificate based on report from the Inspection Garages and licenses and regulates driving schools and their instructors.
One significant advantage with the DVLA, like its counterparts elsewhere, is that it does not seriously have to work hard to earn its revenue; Very unlike other Revenue Collection Agencies like IRS, VAT and CEPS. The police, Customs and Excise Department (CEPS) and other related Government Agencies regularly threaten drivers and vehicle owners who, even against their will, dutifully rush to DVLA offices to over fill its coffers. No sweat at all.
No wonder the DVLA is reported to have made full payment for the Ghana Airways Training School. It is reported that the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) in the State of California, USA, for example, collects approximately $5.9 billion in revenues annually from an estimated 26 million vehicles registered and 20 million licensed drivers.
As if to confirm that the DVLA has a lot of 'unearned' funds at its disposal, it recently put up a series of Adverts in the Daily Graphic inviting 'Consultants on publicity (Emphasis mine) for the replacement of Driver's Licenses'. What do you need a Consultant for in this routine exercise? Why do we have the print and electronic media?
At a time that the Government has no money to rehabilitate Korle Bu and other Hospitals in the Country, the DVLA has allowed a private Ophthalmologist to open an office right inside its compound in Accra 'to test' the eyes of drivers even for renewal of drivers licenses. And do you know the fee? A whooping ¢50,000.00 (fifty thousand cedis) per test. Multiply this figure by the number of 'mourners' who throng the DVLA offices daily. Can't an Ophthalmologist from Korle Bu be posted to DVLA to undertake this job to support the National Insurance Scheme? Or better still, the funds accruing from this test be used to bail out mothers who have delivered in hospitals but 'imprisoned' for non-payment of their medical bills. By the way, who says that anyone with a serious eye defect would go to DVLA offices for test and repairs or would want to risk his life by still driving?
Still, there is another group on the DVLA compound also claiming to test headlights and bulbs of vehicles on road worthiness examination. Also for a serviced fee, whatever that means, of ¢20,000.00 (Twenty thousand cedis) per vehicle. Apart from the unnecessary vehicular queue and its accompanying waste of precious man-hours, the bulbs they inflict on car owners to buy are not too good too. Go to any Auto-electrician in Accra and you would be advised to always prefer any 'Home used' bulbs to any new bulb in the country. Try it.
We appear to have already exposed ourselves as a Country not too interested in Town and Country planning. Just imagine people in high positions in the Land administration in the country allocating parts of the Green belt along the Motorway and East Legon to Craftsmen, Chop barkeepers and 'private schools'. Or an area originally designated by the Lands Department as Community Park on the Mensah Woode road in East Legon 'dashed' to a woman to build private commercial houses. The list is endless.
The 1.5-acre plot accommodating the former Ghana Airways Training School must not be subjected to ordinary bidding process in the determination of a new owner. This is not how buildings and lands on the Regent Park in London are rented out or leased. Let us find out the processes and they may do us a wealth of good.
The Ghana Airways Training School must be re-possessed and given to less 'noisy' Government Departments like the Energy Commission (EC) and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) which are already paying exorbitant rents to private owners. This appears to make a more economic sense in the long run.
The DVLA is over burdened. It is not a case of just moving compounds, as Mr. Osei-Owusu would want us to believe. After all, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Board's meetings are held at the Airport.