Parliament has begun the process of investigating the University of Ghana, Legon, over the implementation of a toll system, which requires motorists who use the school as thoroughfare to link up with other parts of Accra to pay toll rates at the entrance.
The August House, worried over growing concerns about the university’s toll system and its unfolding events, has referred the matter to the joint committee of Roads & Transport and Education, to “seriously”, consider the matter and report to the Legislature.
The joint committee has a period of two weeks (fourteen days) to critically look into the matter and submit their report to Parliament for consideration.
“We have heard a few comments being made about this issue and it is quite disturbing. I would want to direct that this matter is referred to the Roads and Education Committees to seriously go into it and then submit a report for the appropriate action,” First Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ebo Barton-Odro, who presided over proceedings of the House directed yesterday.
The House’s directive was triggered by a concern from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia South, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, who sought the indulgence of the Speaker to carefully look into the matter before it degenerates into something else.
The 9.6 kilometers of road which was resealed and asphalted at a cost of GH¢7million, has thrown the university into anarchy, with students and school authorities constantly at each other’s throat, following the implementation of the toll system which took effect on February 1, 2014.
Currently, the university charges a flat rate of GH¢2.00 for entry and same for exit for commercial drivers, GH¢1.00 for private drivers, including students and GH¢3.00 for heavy duty trucks, a rate far higher than what the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) charges. The GHA takes 50Gp for cars and GH¢1.00 for cross-country vehicles and minibuses.
While the students see the toll system as a tool to extort money from them, authorities of the premier University argued that the initiative was laudable since it would generate additional income for the school to undertake various developmental projects.
Several dialogues between the student body and the school authorities have been unfruitful and the failure to arrive at a common ground has compelled some of the students to seek for redress at the Supreme Court while others too, have petitioned Parliament, to intervene in the matter.
The university has since its implementation of the toll system been reluctant in releasing information regarding the loans it claimed to have secured from the banks to rehabilitate the 9.6 kilometer road network.
Prior to the Speaker’s ruling, the Majority Leader, Hon. Dr. Benjamin Kunbour, sought the indulgence of the Speaker to allow the Committee on Roads which had invited the Minister of Roads & Highways to an emergency meeting on the matter to conclude its discussions before directing the House on what to do next.
But the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, opposed the idea and argued that until the Committee on Roads was given a referral, it could not go ahead to investigate the matter.
“Mr. Speaker, it is a good thing that the committee may want to act proactively relating to matters within their ambit.
‘Unfortunately, conventions in this House have been that not until a referral is made to a committee, the committee on its own cannot conduct investigations and report to the House,” he noted.
Believing that the matter was worth investigating, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, pleaded with the Speaker “to reinforce what the Committee would like to do by properly referring the matter to them.”
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