What Country Are We Living In?
In Ghana, when one purchases a car, there is the need to insure it because it is mandatory and a policy which is known as Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance) Act 1958. The passage and subsequent assent of the Insurance Act 2021 (Act 1061) has repealed the Insurance Act 2006 (724) and now serves as the legal instrument for the regulation and supervision of the insurance market.
As a result of the new policy, the annual premium for the least motor insurance policy-third party insurance is now fetching GHc 471.00 for private cars which hitherto cost GHc 70.00 while that of commercial cars (taxis) has been priced at GHc 576.00 per annum.
MOTOR THIRD PARTY ACT 1958
The Motor Third Party Act of 1958 states that “all vehicle owners must have cover that provides unlimited bodily injury and death compensation to third parties such as occupants, fare-paying passengers and pedestrians”.
Throughout the world, Motor Vehicle Insurance is mandatory for all vehicles using public roads under the various Road Transport acts and Ghana is no exception. However, fixing of amount is done not to inconvenience motorists and car owners unnecessarily and unduly. Our situation in Ghana, is different with motorists being stretched to unbearable limits.
Besides, car owners and motorists cannot ply our roads if they failed to comply with the road safety regulations which include road worthiness certificate which certifies that your car is in good condition to be on the road as well as Driver’s license which authorizes you to drive. These together with motor vehicle insurance, are mandatory for all road users.
HIGH INCREASE IN VEHICLE INSURANCE AND OTHERS
It is instructive to know that fees charge for the renewal of road worthiness certificate have also increased by huge margin this year, likewise the acquisition of driver’s licence. That is to say, motorists are being subjected to harsh and difficult conditions in the country this year.
My car insurance for 2022 is expected to expire on 21st January, 2023. As a normal practice, I do not allow the expiry date to pass completely before renewing my insurance and road worthiness certificate. I therefore, drove to the Kaneshie branch of the State Insurance Company near the Awudome cemetery to my insurance providers to renew my third party insurance cover for which in 2021, I paid a colossal amount of GHc 230.00 for my Toyota Corolla saloon car which is over 10 years old. I anticipated to pay not more than GH¢300.00 in view of the recent increase in the annual premium for third party insurance. I did so to avoid constant harassment from the police who are desperate and cashing in this festive periods to squeeze money from innocent motorists and car owners.
UNAUTHORISED ROAD CHECKS BY POLICE
It may interest my readers to know that even on my way to SIC office from Mamprobi in Accra, I was confronted on two occasions by police personnel who massed at vantage points along the roads conducting what they described as routine checks and doing their own thing. Since my papers were all genuine and intact, I did not have any problem with them at all and was allowed to proceed. Interestingly, you could imagine the number of cars including private ones that had been stopped and interrogated by the police. Definitely, most of them would have to pay bribes to avoid the wicked hands of the police officers who claimed they were on official duty at that time. It is a daily routine for our police personnel to squeeze something out from unsuspecting car owners and motorists and believe me if you go to that area now, you see them there doing their own thing. It is so surprising that the police instead of maintaining law and order by ensuring that motorists drive carefully and safely on our roads, they are rather checking car documents and drivers’ licences just after the Christmas and New Year holidays when people have exhausted their finances on family issues.
AN ISSUE FOR THE IGP TO DEAL WITH
This a matter which should engage the attention of the Inspector General of Police since some officers are misconducting themselves and soiling the hard earned image of the Ghana Police Service.
Just after the Kaneshie First Light, I spotted not less than 12 cars stopped by the police for interrogations. That was not the best for a nation called Ghana and I wondered whether this issue of bribery and corruption would ever end so soon.
The situation in the main auditorium of the SIC offices at Kaneshie was a different ball game. The hall was virtually empty with less activity in place. Few customers including myself, who had gone there to transact business or to renew their individual motor vehicles insurance were so amazed with the high premium they were slapped with. It appears that this new fees have not been highly advertised and, therefore when the amounts were mentioned to motorists and the car owners, you could see anger on their faces. The percentage increases, are sometimes more than 150 per cent. Those who could not afford the amount walked quietly from the SIC auditorium fuming. This is the kind of unhealthy situation motorists and car owners are being subjected to in their own country. Is that an issue of Ghanaians being deprived of owning their own cars?
BUSINESS AT THE KANESHIE MAIN SIC AUDITORIUM
What transpired at the SIC office at Awudome in Accra, was not an isolated case as it spans across all the insurance companies across the country. Nobody is blaming or stopping the government from raising the premium of insurance of motor vehicles in the country since it has been a normal practice worldwide. However, in doing so there should be enough and adequate education on the new fees. Besides, we have to take cognisance of the fact that we have an economy which is grappling with difficulties and challenges, a shattered economy in which money is difficult to come by. People continue to enjoy low incomes and are unable to cater for their families and relations. Owning a car in this country is a privilege not a luxury. It comes at a great cost since incomes are invested towards the maintenance and fuelling of the car. With all these economic hardships in place, one expects our leaders to have compassion in fixing rates or premium that would be affordable by motorists and car owners. At least these increases should be a bit flexible and accommodative in order not to inconvenience car owners and motorists.
BAD NATURE OF OUR ROADS
What is even shocking and surprising is that while steps are taken to increase these premiums and charges, most of our roads across the country remain bad and unmotorable, thus contributing to a lot of accidents. Why can’t we spend some of these indirect taxes to fix our roads to avoid the unnecessary accidents? Just move around Accra and its environs and observe the bad and deplorable nature of the roads. The deep potholes in some of the major roads are, indeed, an eyesore as they pose danger to the vehicles and pedestrians. Typical examples are the road linking Mamprobi to Kaneshie as well as the Kaneshie First Light area, where motorists are confronted with huge potholes. Also, just drive along the Accra-Korle-Bu- Mamprobi road and you will notice the extent of damage on that stretch. The question then is, what are all these taxes from the road sector being used for when most of our major roads remain unmotorable? We pause for an answer from those in charge.
Most Ghanaians are wondering whether in the midst of what is happening, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Certainly not at this time, when those who are supposed to manage the economy and for that matter the road sector, are not doing what is expected of them but are interested in squeezing money from unsuspecting motorists and car owners for their selfish ambitions.
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By Charles Neeqaye