08.01.2005 Feature Article

No Taxis Allowed 'Inside'

No Taxis Allowed 'Inside'
08.01.2005 LISTEN

'Even though Ghana changed to the metric system in 1974 many traders & professionals still prefer to use the old measuring units of miles & feet. A Kumasi hardware dealer scorned at me when I asked why he preferred using feet instead of meters. 'krachie, wo ankasa calculate'

I hereby write to my notable CEO's of both private & government institutions to garbage all the archaic rules that serve no meaningful purposes than to retard the progress of our development. I know you will certainly read this article because during my recent visit, I realized that almost every office I visited relied on Ghanaweb as a source of news on Ghana.

During my visit to Ghana, I tried unsuccessfully to establish meaningful reasons for denying access to commercial vehicles – mainly taxis to certain key areas.

Imagine having to struggle with your bags at the Accra airport just because no taxis are allowed beyond certain critical points.

To my honorable GCAA executives whom I believe have ever traveled outside Ghana, you may have admirably noticed at most airports that taxis were given special preferential treatments to drive very close to the departure or arrival gates. A service indeed!

It is prohibited to allow taxis to enter most governmental & business premises in the country.

The case is even worse if traveling to the Ministries environs in Accra; officially, it is prohibited for commercial vehicles to enter that area. This implies that a potential visitor/ /investor or physically disabled person is either forced to walk/crawl or have access to a private registered vehicle.

During my research, I realized that certain institutions painted the sign 'no taxis allowed' just because they saw others doing it. Public places are not diplomatic missions!

If these signs are merely to prevent soliciting, then please put appropriate signs.

In this modern age, not every person irrespective of economic or social status wants to add a car to his list of property. Some prefer to walk, bike or even join the public transport.

Below is an account of a recent incident that took place at the premises of the (IRS) Internal Revenue Service District/Regional Office in Asokwa -Kumasi.

A patriotic Ghanaian had gone to the office to pay taxes on a commercial vehicle he was driving, upon entering the premises; He decided to park at an unmarked parking space, an unidentified man approaches and disrespectfully ask him to remove his car from the premises.

'Ooh, I have just come to pay taxes and besides there is no notice prohibiting me from driving to this premises, he added.

He introduced himself as a security man (Ben) and added, 'well, it is not written but it is the law here, just park outside or I will prevent you from entering the office'. What ensued later was ugly. Our IRS macho man physically scuffled with our patriotic man. Mockingly these same taxes would be used to pay his salaries.

Our man demanded to see the 'law' prohibiting commercial vehicles from entering IRS premises. 'Well it is not written but you will have to move that car outside, this is my house and I decide what happens here'

Briefly, our man refused to obey the instructions of this rude security man who was ignorant of the fact that the entire IRS premises was a public institution where citizenry could enter freely to do business.

The situation was getting worse as officials of the IRS peeped helplessly through windows thinking their man was right.

Ben was once more reminded that the IRS premise is a public institution and that he should apply any applicable sanctions if any. Our man even demanded to see the chief security officer but Ben wouldn't listen and resorted to use violence resulting in injuries to our man.

Not even the so-called officer in charge of security could realize that the actions of Ben were ridiculous. He was even laughing assuming our man was stubborn.

It took the intervention of angry onlookers to set our man free from the dreadful & dirty hands of Ben amidst heavy verbal abuses and support from his colleagues.

Our man's next course of action was to see the executive; He narrated the incident to the PRO boss who opted to settle the matter amicably. The great relief was when he (PRO boss) admitted that officially there was no prohibition to enter the premises with a commercial vehicle. It appeared to be a self-enacted rule for reasons still unspecified,

So why would the Commissioner of IRS spend big budgets on public campaign to boost revenue collection and yet impose a bogus 'rule' to frustrate taxpayers?

Contrary, the IRS should rather establish drive in counters so that commercial vehicles can effortlessly pay taxes within minutes. If drivers experience that paying taxes is not cumbersome as we went through, why would they default?

As for our macho security man, we do not blame him, as he was ill cultured by elites who gave him free accommodation at the office premises plus leftovers in exchange for executing absurd rules as we later found out.

On his way out, our man saw him arguing with another driver on the same issue, this time it was a vehicle belonging to KNUST.

Our PRO boss promised to bring him to order, lets hope so in the greater interest of mother Ghana.

We now understand why a trotro driver would risk not paying taxes but rather drop unspecified amounts to the numerous traffic controls conducted by the police amidst the mentioning of the popular signature tune; 'wofa'. There wasn't a queue at the IRS office as our man spent less than 5 minutes to get it all done.

Lets hope that the big parking space is not reserved for the GV 4-wheel drives that may ostensibly be used to ply drinking spots, hotels & homes of the numerous 'konkontibaa's'

Most times comments from Ghanaians abroad is rubbished by those at home just because they have the notion that they have lived to save the country. We are very sorry but such comments belonged to the 'ba gyimi bre era'.

Ghanaians abroad also nourish Ghana. This week, our President said: “Perhaps, the most gratifying endorsement of Government's policies and programs is the remittances from our own Ghanaian kith and kin living abroad.”

If our over zealous brethren at home care to know, remittances from Ghanaians abroad in 2004 was over two billion dollars.100% more than cocoa, the highest earner for Ghana.

So please stomach those ignorant & baseless talks for Ghana belong to us all.

God save Ghana. Nana Osei (Sankofa Television – The Netherlands)