Rescind decision on tolls – Government urges Legon

The government has asked the University of Ghana to rescind its decision to impose tolls on motorists who use the university campus roads.

Despite the arguments put forward by the university and reports suggesting that Parliament had endorsed the decision, the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, Mr Prosper Bani, said the government would prefer that the motoring public was not burdened by the university authorities.

Mr Bani told Graphic Online last Saturday that as indicated by the Minister of Roads and Highways, acting on behalf of the government, the cost of rehabilitating the university roads could be absorbed into the ministry’s budget, instead of asking motorists to pay the tolls.

He said the government had expected that with that offer, the authorities of the University of Ghana would abandon plans to implement the toll collection scheme.

He indicated that the government was unhappy with the nuisance and inconvenience caused motorists as a result of the decision of the university to charge tolls on roads on the university campus.

He, accordingly, urged the authorities of the university to rescind their decision in consideration of the hardship, concern and disaffection of motorists and the affected public.

The Chief of Staff reiterated that the government was ready to work expeditiously with the university on the most effective way to absorb the cost of rehabilitation of the roads on campus.

The authorities of the University of Ghana have, since February 1, 2014, been charging tolls on motorists using roads on the campus.

But that decision has attracted widespread condemnation, with two university students filing a suit against the university at the Supreme Court.

The Students Representative Council (SRC) of the university has also threatened to embark on a “Tweeaa Demonstration” on February 11, 2014 if the authorities did not revise the rates pertaining to students.

Parliamentary Select Committee
However, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport last Friday stated that the university acted within the law in its imposition of tolls for the use of its roads.

The Vice-Chairman of the committee, Mr Theophilus Tetteh Chaie, told the Daily Graphic that the University of Ghana Act, 2010 (Act 806) empowered the institution to impose the tolls.

He said after a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, and some members of the University Council on Thursday, the committee had arrived at a decision and would forward its recommendations to the House for appropriate action.

He said it was revealed during deliberations with officials of the university that the university secured a loan of GH¢1.3 million to rehabilitate the roads and, therefore, in the opinion of the committee, if the government or the public was against the collection of the tolls, then the government must absorb the loan.

Alternatively, he said, the government could initiate moves to have the law which empowered the university to charge the tolls repealed or construct the road behind the Gulf House in Accra and the Haatso Road to ease the pressure on the university’s roads.

If those two roads were constructed and drivers still wanted to use the university’s roads, he said, they would not complain if they were asked to pay tolls.                                

Mr Chaie, who quoted copiously from Act 806 during the interview, said those were part of the recommendations that the committee would make to the House for a decision.

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