Taxi Drivers Sue Accra Metropolitan Assembly
More than 10,000 taxi drivers plying their trade in Accra have filed a writ at the High Court for a perpetual injunction to restrain Mr Alfred Oko Vanderpuye, the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) from enforcing bye-laws on commercial transport operations.
The drivers, who are taking the action under the umbrella of the Committed Floating Taxi Drivers Association, are also praying for a prohibitory injunction against the conduct of the Ghana Police Service on the grounds of illegality.
The plaintiffs are further praying for a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 1 (2), 21 (1) (d), (e) (g) and 21 (2) of the 1992 Constitution, the enforcement of the said Legislative Instrument (LI) 2180 (2012), Regulation 121 subsections (1) and (2) of LI 2180 (2012) is inconsistent with, or in contravention of the said provisions of the constitution and is, therefore, unconstitutional, void and of no legal effect.
Joined to the writ are the Attorney-General, the Ministry of Transport, the Minister of Transport, Madam Dzifa Aku Ativor, and the Inspector-General of Police.
Statement of claim
In a statement of claim filed by Ms Mary Ohenewaa Afful, an Accra legal practitioner, the plaintiffs said on or about October 8, 2013, the AMA, in conjunction with the Ghana Police Service, arrested and molested them for not complying with directives and bye-laws being formulated by some metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
It said the said Legislative Instrument (LI) 2180 (2012), Regulation 121 subsections (1) and (2) of LI 2180 (2012) provides that: “A person shall not operate a commercial vehicle unless that person holds a road transport operator’s licence”, and “A person shall not operate as a commercial vehicle driver unless that person is employed by or belongs to a recognised commercial road transport organisation.”
It said the bye-law, according to Mr Vanderpuye, entitled the plaintiffs to join unions and pay exorbitant fees, go through another vehicle registration amidst the payment of dues and be limited in operation to the particular assembly that they register with.
According to the statement, apart from acquiring a driver’s licence, taxi operators in the various metropolises had to possess a metropolitan assembly’s commercial licence, sticker, embossment, income tax, insurance, road-worthiness certificate and operational ticket.
It said the major concern of the plaintiffs had to do with the fact that the commercial licence which used to be between five and seven Ghana cedis had now been increased to GH¢10.10 without any explanation.
It further stated that there had also been a 100 per cent increment from six Ghana cedis to GH¢12 during the second quarter of this year, adding that the directives from some MMDAs to plaintiffs to annually renew their number embossment and the directive to ban taxi drivers from picking passengers beyond their jurisdictions were not practicable.
The statement said there was already pressure on the plaintiffs due to the frequent increment in petroleum products and other vehicle spare parts, coupled with poor road networks.
It also said the money already being ‘extorted’ from the vulnerable, helpless plaintiffs on the instructions of Mr Vanderpuye had not even been used to provide at least a place of convenience, let alone proper taxi stations for the unions or properly educate them on every directive they formulated to avoid any misunderstanding.
According to the statement, another concern of the plaintiffs was the fact that there were no spaces at the already limited terminals in the capital.
It further stated that the Ghana Police Service and Mr Vanderpuye had engaged in acts of illegality by imposing an unenforceable law on them.
It added that with regard to the conduct of the Ghana Police Service and Mr Vanderpuye, the proposed directive and bye-laws were unconscionable and barbaric.
The statement accused the Ghana Police Service and Mr Vanderpuye of not acting in a professional manner and in conformity with the supreme law of Ghana. It said the conduct of the Ghana Police Service and Mr Vanderpuye was illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, was null and void and of no legal effect.
It also said for the purposes of showing that the acts of the Ghana Police Service and Mr Vanderpuye were illegal and unconstitutional, the plaintiffs would lead evidence to show that in spite of their claim, nobody could be forced to join a union because freedom of association was enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.
Gross violation of Constitution
The statement said AMA’s enforcement of the said directive and bye-law was a gross violation of the fundamental human rights of the plaintiffs enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
It added that requesting the plaintiffs to regularise their operations by joining unions or associations for AMA’s effective regulation of their activities, amidst the extortion of huge monies, intimidation, unlawful and unjust arrests, brutalities, etc., contrary to articles 1, 15, and 21 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, infringed on their legal, constitutional and human rights.
It said consequently, the Ghana Police Service and Mr Vanderpuye had no legal authority or capacity to do what had been done.
“The practical legal implication of this is that the existing Legislative Instrument (LI) 2180 (2012), Regulation 121 subsections (1) and (2) of LI 2180 (2012) is not only unenforceable but inconsistent with or in contravention of the provisions contained in the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana,” it added.