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14.11.2008 Politics

Public complaints over clamping & towing of vehicles STMA suspends 24hr contract … Staff attribute decision to elections contract

By Alfred Adams Takoradi - Ghanaian Chronicle

THE Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA), headed by Mr. Philip Kwesi Nkrumah, has suspended a ten year contract it signed with the 24 Hour Vehicle Towing and Accidental Recovery Services Limited (VTARS), with immediate effect, on weird grounds.

The core duties of VTARS are the clamping of vehicles parked at unauthorised places, and issuing of tickets as well as the towing of vehicles. The contract was signed between the Assembly and the company in 2005, and runs to 2015.

The late Managing Director of the company, Mr. Thomas Yentumi, signed the contract on behalf of his company, and the Metropolitan Executive Officer (MCE) of the STMA, Mr. Kwesi Nkrumah, signed on behalf of the Assembly.

From the period the contract was signed, up to September this year, the employees of the VTARS, numbering about thirty-four, had been embarking on their core duties in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis, which are mainly issuing out tickets to parked vehicles, and the clamping vehicles parked at unauthorised places. A clamped vehicle attracts a fine of GH¢15 before it is released.

These activities of the local employees of VTARS have over the years, received much complaints and condemnation from the public, on how the activities are carried out.

A businessman had to drag the company to court for unlawfully clamping his car for days.

The Assembly promised to re-award the suspended contract to the VTARS in 2009. This paper is reliably informed that an ace politician mooted the idea for the contract to be suspended and re-awarded in 2009.

This apart, the STMA metro guards, who are to check hawkers and traders from selling at unauthorised places, are reluctant to work effectively, thus leaving room for unauthorised selling activities go on at the Takoradi Market Circle.

What this means, is that the Metro Guards are no more patrolling the streets of Takoradi to arrest hawkers and traders who engage in unauthorised trading activities at the Market Circle. The hawkers and sellers now have a field day, and this has created congestion at the market.

The Public Relations Officer of the STMA, Mr. John Laste, when contacted on the suspension of the contract, diplomatically denied in a telephone interview with The Chronicle that his outfit's contract with VTARS had been suspended.

According to him, management of STMA was unhappy with the management of VTARS, with respect to the company's performance in carrying out its assigned activities, and was therefore advised to go back to the drawingboard to restructure itself.

“There is rumour going round that it was because of the election that is why we have taken the metro guards from the streets, but that is not it at all,” Laste told this reporter.

But the current Managing Director of VTARS, Mr. John Obiri Yeboah Yetumi, on his part, confirmed to this reporter, in another separate interview, that his outfit's contract with the STMA had been suspended.

According to him, the STMA told him that the suspension of the contract was as a result of complaints received from the public, about they way they carried out their duties.

The numerical strength of his staff, as well as the availability of road signs in the metropolis, were some of the reasons, according to the MD, the STMA assigned for the suspension of the contract.

The STMA in the suspension letter to management of VTARS, made it categorically clear that the contract would be re-awarded in 2009.

For that reason, the MD of VTARS, on the 4th September this year, met his local staff in Sekondi, and apprised them of their contract suspension by the STMA.

Consequently, VTARS, in a letter headlined 'Notice for Termination of Employment' and signed by the MD, wrote “it is with much regret to announce that the company would no longer be needing your services as from 1st October 2008. Please be informed by this letter that you have been given a month notice to the termination of your employment. Our contract with STMA is being suspended with effect from 1st October 2008. We hope to recall you when the agreement with STMA is restored.”

In the light of the above development, the outstanding two months salary of the local staff of the VTARS were paid out to them, without any entitlements, for the three year service they had rendered to their mother company.

A local staff of VTARS, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to this reporter that no benefits were given them by management of VTARS, after they were asked to lay down their tools.

To him, since 2003, when they started working with VTARS, their monthly salary was never increased, yet the company was deducting them social security.

The Mr. John Yeboah Yetumi confirmed that the local staff were not given any entitlement package after their three years service with the company.

However, according to the MD, the local staff could apply for entitlements/benefits, and the company would forward it to it team of lawyers for examination and consideration. The staff said they had copies of appointment letters issued them by management of VTARS after interviewing them for the job, and believed that they deserved entitlement packages.

The core duties of the staff were issuing out of ticketing, clamping and towing of vehicles and were making GH¢100.10, GH¢200 and GH¢40, respectively as daily sales.