Angry Pratt bares teeth at DVLA

Editor-in-chief of the Insight Newspaper says the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority is “exhibiting extreme arrogance” in its implementation of the new driving guidelines.

According to Kwesi Pratt, the DVLA’s mandate is to serve the public therefore in doing so it must take caution and not act as though it is accountable to no one.

Drivers in Accra embarked on a strike to protest some new guidelines introduced by the DVLA.

The new guidelines require that drivers ensure that all passengers wear seat belts in buses and taxis. But the drivers say this is impossible.

DVLA is also insisting that a new equipment will check the road worthiness of vehicles before issuing worthiness certificate.

The drivers have rejected this too suggesting that the DVLA should use those machines first to check if roads like those at Ashiaman and Kasoa are worthy to be called roads.

The drivers are also rejecting a plan by the DVLA to get all commercial drivers to pass through accredited Driving Schools and write computerized tests for any upgrade in their licenses.

In a response to the drivers, the DVLA insisted that the guidelines will not be changed although it claimed it will welcome dialogue into the issues.

Speaking on Radio Gold’s ‘Alhaji and Alhaji’ Mr Pratt said how can the DVLA welcome dialogue when in another breath it has decided to go ahead with the implementation of the guidelines.

“If it has taken a position not to change the decision it has made, how is its doors open? This is arrogance, extreme arrogance.

“Public servants ought to know that they are public servants and not tin gods”, he added.

He noted that although some of the measures like the biometric road worthy certificates is a good idea and will help reduce car hijacking, it is being “introduced and implemented in a manner that is most disgusting”.

In his view, the new guidelines require a certain level of literacy for drivers before it can be implemented without “punishing people who for no fault of theirs are illiterates.

Isn’t it possible for example to start adult literacy classes for drivers? Wouldn’t that be a more sensible and practical way of dealing with the problem rather than throwing people out of their jobs”, he quizzed.

For the many people who have lived all their lives as drivers and use income from this to cater for their families, Mr Pratt believes that asking them to go back to school before they can drive is inappropriate.

He says the DVLA’s disregard for the drivers’ needs is “an an insult and it should not be taken lightly”.

He advised that all stakeholders in this dispute to dialogue and find ways of implementing some of the measures in a way that will bring relief to the general public and the drivers.

He questioned how for instance a driver with a 33-seater bus will be able to fix seat belts when the cost of fixing one seat belt is Ȼ1,000.

“What is the annual income of a tro-tro driver and how much money do they need to fix seat belts? This cost-benefit analysis should have been studied properly so that we all collectively find way to deal with the problem”.

Government can for the sake of public safety decide to phase out certain vehicles, purchase the appropriate ones for the drivers if the vehicles they use pose threat to public safety.

“If you do this then we know that you are doing something that is sensible and feasible”, he added.

Mr Pratt believes that the DVLA must not be allowed to operate an Island.

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