Saturday, 27 April 2013

MTTU, Policing you.

I'm back guys! The essays took me away from really following Ghanaian politics but now I'm in exam mode and that gives me more time weirdly enough. First things first as you may have guessed from the post title, I want to cover the police fine system that I believe the MTTU want to bring in.

I watched this video made by a Ghanaian in America when the news first broke. I laughed almost the whole way through. It's 29 mins long so don't feel like you have to watch it, in fact if you feel like watching it will make you too tired to read my opinion then I can only suggest not watching it.

So if I'm correct the idea is that the police will be able to raise money from traffic offences such as jumping a red light or not having a road worthy car. That's fine. I cannot object, if people violate the law there should be consequences. Having sat in my cousins car a number of times, I prayed to God that someone would nudge him to look after his car better and drive better. I've only ever seen him drive sensibly when his baby and grandmother were in the car!

But the police shouldn't make it as if the objections are completely unfounded. There were complaints from the beginning that the police already take "on the spot fines" or bribes to look the other way and some of us will know it and that the suggested fines are so high that the police officers' pre-existing "fines" are more likely to be the order of the day, meaning the drivers won't take the state authority seriously and the state or police infrastructure doesn't take in as much revenue as they should.

The police told us those predictions were nonsense! As if we don't know Ghana! Fine. Maybe they are nonsense of drivers trying to dissuade the state from enforcing laws. The police should remain steadfast I thought. And they did. Until yesterday they announced that the fines have not yet come into place and that no police officer should be collecting money yet. They even went as far as calling it illegal extortion. So they understand that already their officers have taken advantage of the situation. Have they received any of the illegally acquired funds and if so will they return those funds? See the thing about this is that it raises the question as to how far they've thought this through.

Either, (1) no police officer has yet attempted to "unscrupulously" take money from drivers and therefore the message sent out yesterday from the police about themselves is very confusing, misleading and frankly bad PR. Or (2) the police will not take advantage of these fines to line their own pockets as they have for decades and as such all the detractors are trying to stall the enforcement of laws. Or, (3) they are doing it already/ will do it and therefore the police has just invented new methods of corruption in the country. They either havent thought it through because they lack the brain power to consider all the obstacles or they've purposefully created a flawed system so that the police can pay themselves.

Your pick.

What I do know of vehicular fines elsewhere in the world is that technology is key. Parking in the wrong place is recorded to a central database and the fine is sent to the registered car owner at the registered address of ownership. Speeding/jumping reds is also recorded electronically to a central database and the fine is paid online or in court.

So that means in order for this to go off without a hitch, the DVLA needs strengthening. To be honest, job creation comes by specifically creating traffic wardens/police dedicated to vehicular violations.

Sometimes I think officials in Ghana take little holidays to North America and Europe, see stage 5 of a system and then return to Ghana wanting to implement stage 5 of something without understanding how stages 1-4 came into being.

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