A member of the New Patriotic Party’s communication team, Dennis Miracles Aboagye, said on Citi TV’s news analysis programme, The Big Issue, on Saturday, March 18, 2023, that the government had never cancelled road tolls.
His comments come on the back of concerns about the government’s decision to reintroduce road tolls to shore up the government’s revenue in 2023.
Fact-Check Ghana has verified the claim and presents the explanation below.
Claim: “Government never cancelled road tolls. The government never said it has suspended road tolls. It only said that tolls had been zero-rated.”
Explanation: While reading the 2022 budget statement in Parliament on November 17, 2021, Ken Ofori-Atta said the government had decided to “abolish” road tolls because of the negative health and economic impact of the collection of tolls.
“…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 after the Budget is approved. The toll collection personnel will be reassigned. The expected impact on productivity and reduced environmental pollution will more than offset the revenue forgone by removing the tolls,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
A day after the budget was read, the Ministry of Roads and Highways issued a statement that suspended the payment of road tolls.
“Unfortunately, the Minister of Finance’s statement either got misunderstood or misinterpreted by some motorists, as many of them deemed the statement as having an immediate effect and therefore decided not to pay the road and bridge tolls. The insistence of the toll collectors to have the tolls paid caused serious confusion and, in some cases, resulted in fisticuffs and damage to lives and property.
“The Ministry wishes to assure that the action taken was to suspend the operationalization of the collection of the tolls and not to suspend the law,” the statement said.
Not long after the ministry’s statement, a legal practitioner in charge of the Compliance Unit at the National Road Safety Authority, Kwame Atuahene, in February 2022, suggested to the Ghana Highways Authority to remove the tollbooths to avert accidents.
“We have spoken to the Ghana Highways Authority to do whatever it has to do to remove them [the tollbooths] so that they do not cause any harm,” he said.
In November 2022, the finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, during the reading of the budget statement that the government was reinstating the collection of road tolls. He said:
“The fiscal policy measures to underpin the 2023 Budget for consideration and approval by Parliament include the reintroduction of tolls on selected public roads and highways with a renewed focus on leveraging technology in the collection to address the inefficiencies characterised by the previous toll collection regime.”
From the above, it is clear that the government cancelled the collection of road tolls. Moreover, the talk of a “reintroduction” means road tolls were either suspended or halted. Therefore, the claim by Dennis Miracles Aboagye that road tolls were never suspended is completely false.