Speaker of Parliament reverses directive on cessation of payment of road tolls
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament, says the abolition of road tolls as announced by the Finance Minister during the 2022 Budget statement presentation, will only take effect after parliamentary approval.
He said the announcement was a policy proposal and that the Minister of Roads and Highways did not have the power to order the cessation of the collection of road/bridge tolls without recourse to the House.
“Those are policy proposals that the Minister presented to the House and until they are approved, nobody has the authority to start implementing something that doesn’t exist,” he said in an address to Parliament.
“It is very clear what the Minister sought to do, but he had no such authority to do that. It is not a matter of operationalisation of the law. There is no such law for him to operationalise. The law we have now has imposed the fee that should be collected,” the Speaker said.
Mr Bagbin said the directive of the Minister for Roads did not amount to a disrespect of the House, “Because this is not a Court of law, the Minister might have misunderstood or misapplied the law and so it is for us to draw his attention and tell him that you have no such authority.”
Mr Stephen Pambiin Jalulah, a Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways, said the directive for the immediate termination on the collection of road tolls was to save lives of workers at the toll booths, following intelligence of agitations against their operations by drivers.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, told Parliament that the proposal would take effect after the budget had been approved.
He said the abolition of road tolls was meant to reduce the heavy traffic caused by road tolls and to enhance productivity and reduce environmental pollution.
“…over the years, the tolling points have become unhealthy market centres, led to heavy traffic on our roads, lengthened travel time from one place to another, and impacted negatively on productivity. The congestion generated at the tolling points, besides creating these inconveniences, also leads to pollution in and around those vicinities.
“To address these challenges, Government has abolished all tolls on public roads and bridges. This takes effect immediately the Budget is approved. The toll collection personnel will be reassigned. The expected impact on productivity and reduced environmental pollution will more than off-set the revenue forgone by removing the tolls,” he said.
The Ministry of Roads and Highways, hours after the presentation of the budget, directed the cessation of the collection of road/bridge tolls effective Wednesday midnight.