There seems to be some power play within the Legislature arm of Ghana’s democracy as the Member of Parliament for Suame Constituency in the Ashanti Region who doubles as the Majority Leader, Mr Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu was seen vehemently opposing a directive given by the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin to the roads Minister to rescind his earlier directives to scrap the collection of tolls across the country.
Today’s incident is not the first time the majority leader and leader of government business has challenged the ruling or directives of the Speaker.
It would be recalled that a similar incident happened at the last sitting when the Speaker asked Mr Osei Kyei Mensah about his number of position in the scheme of governance in Ghana in the Speaker’s in-famous I’m “number 3” tag.
What seems to be a showdown between the two emanated from a statement presented by the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu on the Roads Minister’s directives to scrap tolling across all roads across Ghana.
The statement by that Minority Leader and Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale North Constituency in the Northern Region, Haruna Iddrisu sort to called the bluff of the Minister for Roads and Highways to suspend road tolls without recourse to Parliament.
According to Tamale North Lawmaker, the Roads Minister has no such powers to determine fees and charges and therefore cannot arbitrarily announce the suspension of road tolls on the back of the Budget presentation.
The Minority Leader raised the issue on the Floor of Parliament on Thursday, November 18, 2021 just at the beginning of Parliamentary sittings of the day.
It would be recalled that the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori Atta, during his presentation of the 2022 Fiscal Policy and Financial Statement on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 indicated that as a policy, all road tolls will be abolished to ease traffic on the roads.
Subsequent to the policy proposal by the Government which is expected to take effect from January, 2022, there was a press release said to have been issued and signed by the Roads Minister, Mr. Kwesi Amoako Atta, directing that all road tolls be suspended with effect from November 18, 2021.
According to the Minority Leader, Ghanaians should ignore the directive of the Roads and Highways Minister because it has no standing in law.
Contributing to the statement on the Floor, the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South Constituency in the Eastern Region, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea and a former Works and Housing Minister pleaded with the House to give the Minister the benefit of the doubt because it could be an administrative error.
Also contributing to statement, the MP for Adaklu Constituency in the Volta Region, Mr Governs Kwame Agbodza on his part indicated that the Roads Minister should be made to rescind his decision with immediate effect.
It was based on this that the Rt. Hon Speaker Bagbin directed that the leader of government business should communicated to the Roads Minister to immediately rescind that directives.
But the Majority Leader openly challenged the Speaker’s. Saying the Speaker is not clothed with such powers to issue directives.
According to him, it’s members of the August that can make such decision but not the Speaker since he the (Speaker) is not a member of the House.
Mr Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu however, further explained that, the Minister for Roads and Highways, Mr Atta’s decision for ceasing the collection of road tolls across the country was to safe lives and property.
According to him, the Minister for Roads acted upon intelligence gathered that there were a lot of chaos and misunderstanding between drivers and people collecting the toll as soon as they heard the Finance Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta announced that there was going to be toll free across all roads in the country.
“Mr Speaker, in order not to allow the situation to escalate throughout the country, the Roads Minister immediately issued the statement to bring the situation under control.” Reiterated.