Hundreds of vehicle owners thronged the Greater Regional Office of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) in Accra yesterday to be among the first to register their vehicles for the year and obtain 2019 number plates.
Some of the vehicle owners had anticipated being among the first to go through the advertised electronic registration process but that could not be.
DVLA officials declined to explain why it did not start.
It was the first working day of the year at the office and that compelled vehicle owners, especially those who had purchased their vehicles in the last quarter of 2018, to mass up on a public car park nearby as officials of the DVLA struggled for space to accommodate the large turnout.
To reduce congestion on the street leading to the office, policemen were positioned on the stretch to control traffic flow.
In the face of desperation on the part of some vehicle owners, middlemen, popularly known as ‘goro boys’, registered their presence on the premises, persuading some of the applicants that they (middlemen) could assist them to shorten the registration process for various fees.
The Daily Graphic observed a chain of unregistered vehicles in a queue stretching from the entrance of the DVLA to a nearby car park where tens of other unregistered vehicles had been parked.
About three policemen manned the entrance to the office to regulate the flow of traffic to the office and maintain law and order among the expectant patrons.
Some traders were at the entrance of the office to sell their products. Some undertook vehicle embossment services and tinting of car windows, while others sold items such as license holders, air fresheners, seat and steer covers and carpets.
Inside the office, officials of the DVLA were busy at work to serve patrons.
There was heavy congestion at the Customs Unit where patrons obtained clearance on the payment of duties on their vehicles, among other documentations, before they proceeded to technical inspection and identity check.
It was observed that only three Customs officers undertook the exercise, a development which, according to some of the applicants, contributed to the delays.
In an interaction with some of the applicants, they indicated that the rush for the documentation was for them to avoid penalties that came with contravening the law.
Others also cited the quest for special number plates as the reason to register their vehicles on time.
However, following the long wait, some of the applicants who claimed they had been queuing for not less than two hours to begin the registration process expressed frustration at the manner in which the process was being carried out.
“I arrived here around 8 a.m. I was directed to this car park before I could join another queue to enter the office. The process has been very slow and no official has come to explain things to us,” one of them, who identified himself only as Akwasi, said.
Another vehicle owner, Mr Eric Asare, who was able to complete the registration formalities, stated that even though the process was cumbersome, “there is significant improvement in the process in terms of order and coordination, compared to what pertained in the past”.
In an interview, the Public Relations Manager of the DVLA, Mr Francis Asamoah Tuffour, blamed the congestion on the failure on the part of a majority of the applicants to take advantage of an opportunity offered them to begin the registration process in December 2018.
“Usually, vehicle owners go through about six stages to register their vehicles. We offered them the opportunity to complete about four of the processes, including clearance for road worthiness, in December last year. Those who complied are enjoying a smooth process today,” he stated.
On the issue of ‘goro boys’, he said: “Our men are monitoring the grounds and I can assure you that by the close of the day some of them will be picked by our task force.”
At the Weija Office of the DVLA in Accra, it was observed that more than 150 unregistered vehicles had crowded the premises as their owners jostled in their quest to obtain 2019 number plates.
In an interaction with some of the applicants, they accused officials of the DVLA of not putting adequate measures in place to forestall the chaos.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Senior Technician Engineer of the DVLA, Weija, Mr Rowland Dorkenoo, blamed the delay on “the slow network connection at the various stages of payment".