Police suspend motor checks (October 6, 2016)

The Police Administration has directed personnel of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department  (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service to suspend all motor checks in the country with immediate effect.
An internal wireless message issued by the Police Administration in Accra last Tuesday asked the personnel to be "used only for traffic management duties. Regional, divisional and unit commanders are to ensure that no permits are issued for motor check duties”.

The directive, which was signed by the Director-General of Police Administration, Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr  Ransford Moses Ninson, asked the highway patrol units of the police to “only check for arms and ammunition and drugs”.

While urging the unit commanders to treat the directive as urgent, the message explained that no documents covering vehicles and driving licences were to be inspected by highway patrol personnel.

Meanwhile, the directive has incurred the displeasure of the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), which says the decision by the police was taken without consultation with the commission, which is one of its key partners in road safety.

The Public Relations Officer of the NRSC, Mr Kwame Kodua Atuahene, told the Daily Graphic that the commission could not tell what had informed the directive to MTTD officers not to check driving licences and roadworthy documents on duty.

Coming on the back of a particular difficult year for road safety in the country when, between from January to September 1,500 people have died from carnage, Mr Atuahene said “we don’t know the purpose of and intention of the directive”.

He, however, said it was heart-warming that in spite of the directive, the police would be on the road checking other road infractions, including speeding, drink driving, use of phones while driving and other activities that compromised road safety.

DVLA task force
To keep an eye on recalcitrant drivers and members of the public who may want to take advantage of the situation, Mr Atuahene said, the NRSC would work with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) task force to do the suspended checks, when necessary, at lorry parks and on the field.

In July this year, the DVLA task force, comprising the police, DVLA and NRSC officials, in a six-week exercise, apprehended the drivers of more than 800 vehicles for various road traffic offences on the Sakumono-Tema Beach Road.

The offences included driving without licences, driving with fake licences, fake or expired roadworthiness certificates and driving rickety vehicles.
But the Ghana Police Service has explained that the decision to halt motor checks across the country is a temporary measure to ease traffic congestion.

The decision, which went viral after a wireless message from the top hierarchy of the Ghana Police Service was leaked, attracted criticisms from the public, civil society and some road safety experts.

The Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service, Deputy Superintendent of Police Mr Freeman Tettey, told the Daily Graphic that the directive was one of the normal directives issued intermittently to ensure traffic situations did not get out hand.
No effect
Mr Tettey explained that the directive would not affect road safety, as claimed by some stakeholders.

“This is because when a motorist commits a traffic offence, the police will enforce the law by arresting the law breaker. They will definitely check licences and road worthy certificates but the police, per the directive, will now not randomly stop a car or mount a barrier to check driving licences, worn out tyres, road worthy certificates, insurance, among others,” he added.

Policemen, he said, would rather concentrate their efforts on regulating traffic flow in most congested parts of the country, while routine crime checks remained in force.

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