Puzzling Procurement, Prorogated Power, and Plastic Petitions

Weekly Wrap-Up from the Morning Man

Let's do the Weekly Wrap-up, shall we?

We've been dealing all week with the truly disturbing revelations about the DVLA. Joy News' Kwetey Nartey has uncovered some very strange activity at the state institution responsible for licensing motors and motorists in Ghana. As you know, there's been this extended delay in the printing of photo drivers' licences. I got a temporary licence in April last year, and was promised the card in three months. It's been a year and a half now. And this week, we're learning that the delay was due to some discrepancy with the contract between the DVLA and Foto X, the company engaged to print the card licences.

The DVLA signed a 10 year contract with them, under which Foto X would invest 3.6 million dollars in equipment and training for the printing of licences. In exchange, Foto X would take 80% of revenue raised through licensing motorists, leaving 20% to the DVLA. But for some strange reason, the contract now says 9.9 million dollars. Foto X staff says it's a typo. But they are not worried. They say they are the ones on the losing end of the deal, and so if they are not complaining, then nobody else should.

So my question is, why would a profit making company be ok with a typo that obliges them to pay 6.3 million dollars more for the same percentage share in a contract. Why would anyone rather give away 6.3 million dollars than correct a typo?

Anyway, the DVLA were obviously not too happy about the typos, and had not paid any money to Foto X in quite a while. So the company stopped printing the licences, hence the backlog. Now, the DVLA have apparently engaged a company owned by one of the board members – according to sources – and have been trying to clear the backlog. This, of course, leaves us open to a spot of judgement debt in our not-too-distant future. But here's the best part: there is no contract between the DVLA and these new printers to produce what is actually a National Identity Document.

Now, while all these delays were going on, the DVLA agreed with the Ghana Police to permit the continued use of expired temporary permits. So basically, the two state institutions responsible for ensuring that citizens obey this law, have come together and agreed to allow the citizens to break the law, because they can't do their jobs? Truly an upside-down republic.

This week, we've also been looking at these long anticipated power barges. We sent a contingent of Ghanaians to Turkey last week, to commission a barge that isn't actually ours, and still hasn't sailed towards its destination. It still baffles me why we are all so excited over a source of power that is going to cost us about three times more than the existing sources which we already can't afford. Today, our thermal installations are running at close to full capacity. No maintenance issues, no repair issues. Our problem at the moment – apart from the usual Akosombo water levels – is fuel. How are two fuel-guzzling barges going to help us solve that problem?

And then we heard that the proposed ban on plastics has been postponed. Why? because plastics manufacturers have petitioned the government. They say they will now make plastics that are bio-degradable. For me, something just doesn't add up. If the plastics manufacturers are going to stop making the product government is banning anyway, then why fight the ban? Why petition the government to allow you to keep manufacturing something you claim you are no longer going to manufacture? And why did the government agree?

Oh, and Ghanaians are still eating palm oil, even though 98% of it contains a cancer-causing poison.

Right. What else have we been talking about? Oh yes! All week, we have continued our quest for an answer to the question: Does Ghana Work? We've looked at the private sector, we've analysed our public institutions and our political economy. Today, we’re taking the Does Ghana Work theme to its most crucial conversation so far. We've all heard the stories of corruption and abuse of office. We've all been victims of a system that doesn't work. We've all seen what is wrong with Ghana. So today, we ask: Why Are You Ok With It?

My name is Kojo Yankson, and it's been a week of Puzzling Procurement Prorogued Power and Plastic Petitions.