A policeman on duty at the Kintampo road barrier in the Brong Ahafo region and an articulated truck transit driver were on Friday, April 13, embroiled in a scuffle over ¢5,000 bribe allegedly demanded by the policeman.
As the argument raged, the policeman was heard threatening to kill the driver, “I’ll kill you like a fowl', he shouted at the driver who was conveying a load of sugar to Ouagadougou- Burkina Faso.
The policeman apparently got infuriated when the driver bluntly refused to pay the illegal fee. The Ghanaian Times says the incident took place while its reporter was on the truck from Tenu to Ouagadougou- Burkina Faso and back, sponsored by the West African Trade Hub, a USAID project to observe the problems that drivers encounter while traveling by truck in both directions.
There were as many as 23 barriers and check points on the way
from Tema to the Paga border and 26 from the Paga border to Tema, where as five check points were recorded from the Dakola border (Burkina Faso) to Ouagadougou to the Dakola border.
The number of Ghana barriers appears to contravene a directive the Inspector General of Police, Patrick Acheampong gave last year that the barriers and checkpoints be reduced to the minimum due to unfavourable reports about the police.
West Africa is said to have the highest cost of road transport in the world due to a variety of reasons.
Notable among them are the high cost of inputs and taxation, low capacity use, overload trucks running on degraded roads and a surfeit of old, inefficient trucks operating from the fleet.
On the other hand, a major source of high cost, which exacerbates some of these factors, is the set of road barriers set up mostly by law enforcement agents to exact bribes from truckers through threats of delays if they are not paid.
Bribery and delays at international border posts are a variant of this, at which officials may additionally exploit the need for further paperwork for the cargo as part of the transition from one country to another.
The road side corruption pervades the Customs, Police and other government agencies such as those checking the axle tons of the vehicle load.
The Policeman at the Kintampo barrier is alleged to have demanded the bribe termed as 'water' or 'cola', from the driver before he could let him pass to his destination.
For about 20 minutes, the two persons poured invectives at each other, with each of them insisting that he was right. The incident started when the truck with a Burkina Faso registration number arrived at the closed barrier where the policeman was found reading a newspaper.
He apparently expected the driver to get down and go to him, but the driver remained in his truck. The policeman angrily got up and walked to the driver who immediately identified himself as a transit vehicle. But the policeman retorted: “And so what.”
This brought up an argument between the two, with the driver questioning the police corporal why he opened the barrier for other vehicles, especially those behind his truck to pass.
The driver seemed to have no alternative under the circumstance but to pay the money through a district assembly official who was there to check vehicles for their income tax.