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SOUL TAKERS (5) ...The DVLA Rot, 7 Out Of Every 10 Licenses Are Fake   
 
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22-Apr-2014  
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Little drops of water they say makes a mighty ocean, the systemic fraud that has engulfed the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) has led to an increment in the number of fake driving licenses; thereby making our roads suicidal.

The fraud has become a free for all enterprise due to Management’s inability to introduce new systems that will make faking difficult.

"Management is aware of the fraud, we generate enough money from our operations but we are not upgrading and changing to a more robust system because it would stop cash flow into our pockets that is why management is not changing this type of license. We all enjoy from the bribes and management is aware of that. They also take their share of the cash" said a senior officer at Ho DVLA who wanted to remain anonymous. "There was a system that was given to us for free for us to use simple mobile phones to determine genuine licenses from fake ones just last four months but we realized it is going to spoil our business so once again we kicked against it. The unfortunate thing is that people are dying as a result of our bribery activities, we create the opportunity for people to give us the bribes" he added.

LICENSE TRICKS

At some point in the investigation, we had in our possession two classes of licenses. Those that were obtained the quick way within a week or less and those obtained through due process (three months period or more) albeit for both we ended up paying huge sums of money.

It must be noted that the so called fake licence were obtained not only by "goro boy" but also officials of the DVLA

Subsequently, we decided to test the authenticity of the scores of licenses that we obtained in the course of our investigation. We handed over these licenses to a testing officer at Koforidua and the following results came out.

a. The details on some of the licenses were different from details on the DVLA’s database. By implication, officials were stealing details of valid applicants to prepare fake licenses for other people.

b. The details on other licenses we presented were nonexistent on the DVLA’s data system. In this case it meant that officers just forged numbers and codes and prepared these licenses for people –a majority of whom have access to our roads.

THE VEXED ISSUE OF ‘FAKE LICENSES’

During the course of this investigation, investigators presented licenses to officers of the DVLA. Almost all of them failed to distinguish between the genuine and the fake upon first sight. They all answered that it was only by referring to checks on their database that they could certainly check for license validity.

In an interview with the commander of the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) ACP Anwunbutogbe Awuni, he also confirmed their inability to attest to the genuineness of a license by just looking at the physical features.

“Currently, when I was in Accra Central, the DVLA gave us some machines and that is what we are using. You run it over the license and it will tell you that it is genuine or fake. They distributed it among us and that is what we are using.

It is very effective. There is some ultra violet light in it. So you will run it through it and you will see some features, so it was very (very) effective. I think we sent almost [about] 5000 to the regions and we kept about 3000 here and everybody has had one,” he concluded.

The former DVLA chief executive; Mr. Amegashie reaffirmed that a person (be it a DVLA officer or Police officer) cannot easily detect a fake license except when a test is run by the DVLA offices; usually when applicants come to have licenses renewed.

According to him; “When people come to renew their license, then we get to know they are fake. Now, you and I do know somewhere last year, Daily Graphic published that malaria drugs, there are fake malaria drugs in seven countries in Africa.

… and you see, if people are not diligent what happens is that, when people come to renew their license, they’ll go to the database to see whether the certificate of competency, the numbers they have [are valid].

So when people come to renew their license, they go to the data base. They don’t just renew, they make verification and that’s where we get to know that it’s fake,” he added.

THE INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT

In exception of the learners and regular drivers’ licenses, the international driving permit [IDP] was another area the team managed to explore with same results of corruption and cutting of corners.

The IDP is regulated by law (Road Traffic Regulations LI 2180) under regulation 143 sections 1 – 7. Section 1 as:

“The Licensing Authority may in accordance with the Vienna Convention 1968 issue an International Driver’s Permit to a person who is at least eighteen years old, to drive outside Ghana, if the Licensing Authority is satisfied that the person is

(a) A holder of a valid Ghanaian driving license,

(b) Competent to drive a motor vehicle of the description for which the Permit is issued,

(c) Resident in Ghana, etc.

When we got to Koforidua DVLA, though it was difficult to obtain regular licenses, we were successful in applying for an IDP with a valid local license as was required.

We managed to have an IDP done for a dead man by presenting his regular driving license to one Mr. Alex, who demanded that we pay Gh¢200 for the IDP.

After we had made payment, he managed to prepare the IDP for us but left the signature portion to be duly appended by the applicant after which he directed us on how to seal the permit.

A dead man could only possess a valid IDP if officers like Mr. Alex resort to issuing licenses to people who do not come to the offices as required.

We applied for another IDP at Tema DVLA, there we were not even required to produce a local license, because the officer just took the passport picture with required details (name, date of birth and signature) and of course his charge of Gh¢150. He gave us a date to pick up the document and duly delivered it on the said date.

The story was no different at Asante Mampong DVLA, where Mr. Appiah, a very busy official at the branch managed like the Tema official to use just details without a valid local license to process an IDP for us at the cost of Gh¢200.

On a comparative analysis of signatures on the different IDPs we secured, we found similar signatures on the IDPs. That reinforced the fact that insiders were forging signatures. Whilst on the field, we found something curious about the signature portion of the Licensing Authority: it was evident to us that officials in other branches were forging signatures of their superiors.

The rot at the DVLA is so bad that we are aware of an established trend where documents are obtained for people who neither deserve nor request for them. The situation can be likened to how Ghanaian passports and other national identification documents are owned by non-nationals through corrupt and illegal means.

Ghanaian licenses are easily obtainable thanks to the rot and fraud at most DVLA offices, the result however is that it could be used as an ID to commit a crime in a foreign country, a situation which will eventually tarnish the image of mother Ghana.

COMING UP:

In the next installment of our exposé, we put the spotlight on some reckless activities of the people in whose hands lives and property is entrusted on a daily basis. We also seek answers from the National Road Safety Commission on how to make our roads safer.

Book your copies in advance. Till then, we wish you ALL a safe journey. Do not drive tired, drive safe.
 
 
Source: The New Crusading Guide
 
 

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