I had an eye opener last week at the Korle Bu Police Station; some of the unregistered number plates one sees on vehicles could either be fake or may have expired. They may simply not be genuine.
If one such vehicle damages your car, knocks someone down or worse, kills someone, there will never be any trace of them in the books of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). One such fate befell me last week when a young man, probably not more than 25-years-old, ran into my car and bolted from the scene.
This young man was driving an old white Toyota Matrix with unregistered number plates boldly displayed inside the car. He rammed into my car in slow traffic which probably suggested that he was not attentive at the time. The damage to the rear bumper and boothof my car was quite extensive. When I asked why he rammed his vehicle into mine, he told me he had a problem with his brakes.
On recognising the damage, I decided to call the police and I took over the two unregistered number plates which he surrendered without any fuss. At that point, he started begging me. What amazed me was that he seemed to have taken the incident lightly, giggling and responding to area boys. When I asked to see his driving licence, he told me he did not have it on him. He offered to pay me something to take care of the damage caused.
Having insisted on getting the police to the scene, I turned round to place a call on my mobile phone. I then saw a couple of young men talking to him and the next thing I realised, he had backed out. He drove off in the opposite direction, leaving me standing there amazed at his behaviour. I called my son and we both drove to the Korle Bu Police Station to lodge a complaint.
It was at the police station that I heard a shocking revelation. The police officer on duty took the unregistered number plates as I narrated the incident. He looked at them and his first words numbed me. He said, “Madam, these number plates are not valid.” What did he mean? Incidentally, those number plates were the type given at the ports for 10 days at the time a vehicle was released. The number plates I had taken over would not have any trace at the DVLA, I learnt. So that probably explains why the man willingly surrendered them on demand.
That is how far we have nurtured and are now reaping the results of the culture of impunity in this our beloved country. How could anyone dare to drive around with invalid vehicle number plates? Why would a driver with valid documents sense danger at the mention of calling the police to an accident scene and then sneak off?
Nobody is safe on the road for as long as we have drivers with such dubious minds around. Assuming this irresponsible driver who drove into my car had knocked someone down as he tried to escape, does it mean he would have escaped free with no trace of the vehicle in the national drivers and licencing records? That is scary and worrying.
What happened to me may not be an isolated case. Is the DVLA considering measures to stay ahead of such miscreants?
Perhaps, the DVLA, in conjunction with the Ports and Harbours Authority may want to consider the use of different colour codes for unregistered vehicles discharged from the ports with a given validity of up to 10 days as opposed to the DVLA one which lasts for up to one year.
With some public education, the colour codes could kindle awareness and even cause citizen’s arrest in the event of a misdemeanour on our roads. We do not seem to appreciate the essence of harmonisation and simplification within state institutions. But why should we encourage unregistered number plates in the first place? A vehicle which has not been registered should not be on the road.
In the meantime, why does DVLA not take over for destruction, all temporary unregistered number plates at the point of issuing permanent number plates? We need to be ahead of diabolic games of the lawless. Carrying on with business as usual is not helping us.
As we toss ideas around, we would like to appeal to the police to intensify random checks on unregistered vehicles. The impunity must not be allowed to get out of hand. Not until we apply systematic checks, no one is safe on our roads.
Source: Vcky Wereko - [email protected]
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