Motorists have raised issues with the decision by the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service to implement the policy of spot fines as penalty for minor traffic offenders from next month.
Some motorists argue that the implementation of the spot fine would encourage bribery and corruption among the police, since offenders might want to pay much less the penalty value to the person collecting the fine.
They also argue that the 24-hour deadline for the offender to pay the penalty is too short.
While the Director of the MTTU, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr Angwubotoge Awuni, acknowledges the issues raised by the motorists, he says the MTTU will go ahead to implement the law while its rough edges are addressed.
The introduction of the spot fines is in line with Regulation 157 of Legislative Instrument (LI) 2180 passed by Parliament in 2012. The regulation states: “A person who commits a road traffic offence specified in the Seventh Schedule is liable to pay a spot fine.”
According to Regulation (3), “Where a person commits a road traffic offence which attracts a spot fine, a police officer in whose present offence was committed shall:
(a) Issue that person with a spot fine notice; and (b) Record the offence in the counterpart driver’s licence (booklet for recording road violation) of that person.
According to the law, the ticket is to be issued by a police officer in uniform who believes an offence has been committed and should be a police officer of the rank of Inspector or above.
(4) Where a police officer in uniform believes an offence which attracts a spot fine has been committed by a person and the vehicle of that person is stationary and unattended, the police officer shall affix a spot fine notice to the windshield of the vehicle.
(5) A person issued with a spot fine notice under Sub-regulation (3) or (4) shall report to the Spot Fine Office with the spot fine notice within 24 hours.
The spot fine covers minor traffic offences such as driving a vehicle without reflectors, non-conformity with restrictions on horns and sirens, driving by under-aged persons, using communication device while driving and using motorcycle or tricycle for commercial passenger services.
A taxi driver, Mr Alex Asante, told the Daily Graphic, “I don’t agree with the police because I see the spot fine as a new way of taking money from us drivers into their own individual pockets”.
A trotro driver, Mr Joseph Antwi, wondered why an offender should be arrested after failing to pay the fine within 24 hours .
“I seriously commend the MTTU Commander on the initiative and I think he should go ahead with the implementation” Mr Charles Benoni, a journalist and motorist, said.
To him, indiscipline on the road, such as the jumping of red light, the illegal use of sirens and horns to beat traffic, among other offences, had become too rampant.
Another driver, Mr Benjamin Dzidor, described the introduction of the spot fine as good initiative which would keep drivers on their toes to help reduce indiscipline on the roads.
When contacted on the concerns of motorists, Mr Awuni said the law would still be implemented, in spite of those concerns raised.
He stated that “the fact still remains that a law has been passed and, therefore, we, as law enforcers, have to make sure that it is implemented”.
He said changes would be made as time went on, adding, “A new law like this is bound to have some potholes which would need changes as time goes on.”
Mr Awuni, however, gave an indication that the spot fine might not start from May, as was announced earlier, saying, “We may extend the time of implementation from May until further notice.”
When asked about the issue of bribery and corruption, he said although the spot fine was going to be implemented by the police, it would be regulated by the banks, the Driver and Vehicle
Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC).
On the issue of perpetual offenders, Mr Awuni said they would be relieved of their driving licences.
He urged Ghanaians to support the system which would help ensure discipline on the roads to reduce accidents in the country.