A subsidiary of the Jospong Group of Companies has been accused of stealing a concept to implement a mandatory fee for vehicle towing.
Making the accusation, a manager at Rüttchen Trucks Ghana Ltd, Evans Dzide, claims the concept was presented to the National Road Safety Commission as far back as 2007.
But to their surprise, Road Safety Management Limited (RSML), a subsidiary of Jospong Group of Companies has been awarded the contract to do the same work.
From July 1, 2017, vehicle owners and motorcyclists will pay compulsory annual fees, tied to the acquisition of a road worthy certificate, to cater for towing services. Fees per year for both commercial and non-commercial vehicles, depending on tonnage, range from È»20 to È» 200.
Critics says even national health insurance scheme is not mandatory.
While the project has been met with growing public disapproval, there is a raging controversy on the sidelines over ownership of the concept.
Marketing and Communications Officer for RSML Roland Walker explained, the project is a concept practised the world over and cannot be copyrighted to an entity in Ghana.
He explained Jospong's company was incorporated in 2011 after the mandatory towing project idea was conceived in 2010.
"Before you incorporate a company you have to do the background thinking," Roland said.
The Marketing and Communications Officer for RSML said the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) opened a tender for the project which RSML, like other companies, put in a bid for.
RSML company eventually won because it was recognised as having the capacity to tow vehicles all over the country, he insisted.
But Rüttchen Trucks Ghana Ltd says it has a Memorandum of Understanding with NRSC and a Cabinet memo dated March 2010, indicating an agreement to implement a mandatory levy for towing services.
According to Evans Dzide, the NSRC has seen his company roll out a trial version of the project after the Chief of Staff accepted their proposal on behalf of the government in 2007.
Pleased with their work, the NSRC moved to the second phase of the project which required Parliament to pass an LI making the payment of a fee mandatory on all motorists, Evans Dzidze explained.
For years, Rüttchen Trucks Ghana (RTG) Ltd says it has had to wait for the law to be passed until eventually, LI 2180 was passed in 2012.
During this time, Rüttchen Trucks Ghana Ltd provided towing services to the NRSC free of charge with the expectation that it will manage the project once it was fully rolled out.
Following a change in government in 2017, the company met new government officials to find out the state of the project implementation.
He says to their shock, it was discovered the project had been given over to Jospong's RSML. "I suspect someone[at the National Road Safety Commission took our proposal and smuggled it to RSML", Evans said.
The Executive Director of the NRSC Madam May Obiri Yeboah informed RTG during a meeting on Monday, March 20, 2017 that a contract had been signed with RSML as the major contractor.
"This project was stolen…and they know. You have stolen the concept and that is it", he told Roland Walker pointedly on the Joy FM Super Morning Show, Thursday.
Following this discovery, the management of Rüttchen Trucks Ghana Ltd met with government officials where the company offered to pay off Jospong for the cost in assembling a fleet of towing vehicles so it can carry on as the original company to do the job.
After much intervention, it was finally agreed the two companies share the job 50-50 after the NSRC acknowledged that Ruttchen Trucks Ghana Ltd has the copyright to the project.
To date, the NSRC is yet to operationalise this understanding. Rüttchen Trucks Ghana Ltd has hinted the plan to launch the project July 1 will not come off until it is fairly treated in the sage of ownership of a financially rewarding project.