The government has asked road users to consider as well as support proposals for a levy to be placed on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), used as fuel for road transportation.
“Based on the user pays principle for which a levy is charged on petrol and diesel, it is my expectation that consideration and support will be given for a levy to be placed on LPG used as fuel for road transportation”.
Mr Joe Gidisu, Minister for Roads and Highways made the plea when he opened a public forum on Road Fund organised by the Road Fund Management Board in Tamale in the Northern Region, yesterday, with the objective of discussing ways of financing road maintenance in the country.
The forum was also to sensitise the public and all stakeholders on the role of the Road Fund in the financing of road maintenance as well as provide the platform for explaining the rationale for the collection of tolls and other levies into the Fund.
The Road Fund, which derives its revenue from the Fuel Levy, Tolls and DVLA Fees, is the main source of financing road maintenance in the country.
Statistics show that the Road Fund is only able to provide 60 per cent of the resources needed to carry out regular maintenance of the country’s roads, thus a backlog of 40 per cent resources is required and hence the need to find other ways of generating resources to support regular road maintenance.
However, most vehicles have switched-over to using LPG, which does not attract levies to be paid into the Road Fund, thus putting additional stress on the Fund in terms of generating more resources.
Mr Gidisu, therefore, argued that if a levy was placed on LPG to be paid into the Road Fund, it would capture all the vehicles switching away from petrol and diesel, leading to an increase in monies paid to the Fund.
He said government had also been exploring other financial methods such as the long-term pre-financing to carry out road maintenance.
“Another area of funding which government has been giving serious consideration to, is the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) and the Maintain, Operate and Transfer (MOT) concepts of public private partnership arrangements”, the Minister said.
It is estimated that a one per cent delay in maintenance of roads costs eight times more in their restoration hence the need to put in place measures to ensure their sustainable maintenance so that the country could, for a long time, have continued benefit of their use.
“The burden of road maintenance must therefore become a shared responsibility between the government, who constructs and the road user who benefits from the access thus created”, he said.
Mr Gidisu said as part of the government’s infrastructural development programme, “Ghanaians are witnessing acceleration in the development of our nation’s roads infrastructure”.
He said “a national road network of about 39,000 kilometers as at 2001, is now over 67,000 kilometers with the road condition mix improving from 27 per cent good, 17 per cent fair and 56 per cent bad as in 2001 to 42 per cent good, 28 per cent fair and 30 per cent bad as at the end of 2010”.
Madam Mercy Payne, Principal Engineer at the Ghana Highway Authority, who spoke on “Road Misuse and its Effects” cited disregard for road furniture by road users (road signs, markings, traffic signals), transporting abnormal loads without permits (excess width, over height, hazardous goods), unapproved speed calming (speed humps, road cuts etc) amongst others as practices that led to early deterioration of roads infrastructure.
She recommended enforcement of Road Traffic Regulations, community involvement in project execution amongst other measures to prolong the lifespan of the country’s roads infrastructure.
Some of the participants expressed frustration at some of the poor stretches of roads across the country, which hampered economic productivity and called for urgent action to address the situation.