University of Ghana begins collection of road tolls despite legal challenge to its action


The University of Ghana has begun the collection of road tolls despite a legal challenge to its action. Two students of the university have brought an action against the authorities in their capacity as Ghanaians praying the Supreme Court to stop the university from charging the said road tolls.

They are, accordingly, urging the highest court of the land to declare the action of the university as unconstitutional.

Ernest Victor Apau and Musah Mustapha, per their reliefs, are seeking the court to perpetually restrain the university and its agents from charging motorists who ply the university’s routes.

The university is being sued as an entity. Joined to the suit is the Attorney-General.

Reliefs being sought 
The writ, dated January 29, 2014 and filed on behalf of the applicants by Mr Egbert Faibille, a legal practitioner, came about as a result of the university’s plan to charge road tolls with effect from February 1, 2014.

The reliefs being sought by the applicants include a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 174 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, the road usage and user charges the university sought to introduce amounted to taxation.

A move by the university to exempt some of its members of staff from paying the road usage and user charges, according to the applicants, was in violation of Article 17 (1) (2) and (3) of the 1992 Constitution.

They also see that move as an abuse of discretionary powers and are, therefore, praying the court not to countenance it.

The applicants are arguing that the action of the respondents had violated Article 174 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, because the tolls were introduced without an Act of Parliament.

They are further praying the court to grant any other relief it (the court) deemed fit. A date is yet to be fixed for the hearing of the writ.

Toll payment
Meanwhile, the authorities began the collection of the tolls last Saturday, February 1, 2014 at four toll booths, resulting in heavy traffic at the university’s main entrances. 

The booths have been mounted at the main entrance at Okponglo, Lingate, located on the Achimota-GIMPA road, TF, on the North Legon Road and the Banney Hostel, opposite the Presbyterian Secondary School.

Commercial drivers pay GH¢2 for entry and the same for exit, private car drivers including students pay GH¢1 and heavy duty trucks are made to pay GH¢3. 

Students can, however, pay GH¢100 per month to avoid paying the daily toll. 

Lecturers of the university and their dependents, senior staff members, personnel from the armed forces and the police service, as well as those from the fire service, are exempted from the tolls.

Complaint
Many of the taxi drivers who plied the university’s routes paid the tolls amid protests, calling on the authorities to quickly reverse their decision in order not to have a negative effect on their work on campus.

According to them, if the issue was not addressed, they would be compelled to increase their fares.

Already the drivers who convey passengers to various parts of the campus for a previous fee of GH¢3 now charge GH¢6, while those who charged GH¢1 now take GH¢1.50 or GH¢1.70

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