The Ghana Haulage Transport Association has accused some Francophone countries in the West Africa sub-region of constantly harassing and showing very little respect for the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance issued by insurance companies in Ghana.
Field studies conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration also revealed prolonged and widespread delay in the settlement and payment of cross-border claims by the various national bureaux.
To avoid the frustration and inconvenience of using an insurance card that is worthless in those countries, the drivers are compelled to rather buy the insurance from those countries, to the detriment of local insurance companies.
“We are harassed and they don’t value our brown card, so we are forced to buy the brown card from them. In case of a little accident, they will just lock you up without bail. In some instances, the drivers just run and leave the truck. They tell us they don’t have trust and confidence in our brown card,” Alhaji Baba told the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Council of Bureaux of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme.
The meeting brings together players in the insurance industry and the ECOWAS Commission to reflect on the role of the Brown Card Scheme in regional integration, as well as seek closer collaboration with the sub-regional body.
Alhaji Baba drew a sharp contrast between what happened to drivers from those countries when they encountered problems in Ghana, saying that “in Ghana we are not restricting anyone. Anyone from the sub-region comes and goes without any difficulty. They have freedom of movement for passengers and cargo but they are trying to kick us out of the sector in their countries”.
The three-day session, which has attracted more than 50 delegates from the sub-region, is on the theme: “The relationship between the ECOWAS Commission and its established institutions and agencies: The case of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme”.
ECOWAS Brown Card
The ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme was established by protocol on the free movement of persons and goods across national boundaries of ECOWAS member-states.
The Brown Card scheme is the equivalent of the Green Card in the European community, the Pink Card in Arab countries and the Yellow Card within the East African Economic bloc.
Ghana established the National Bureau, made up of insurance companies licenced to underwrite motor insurance business, in 1988 and it has been operational to date.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Mr Emmanuel Bombande, expressed strong reservations about the reports, saying: “This is in no doubt against the tenets of the protocol and gives cause to worry. I, therefore, call on the Council of Bureaux to address this serious anomaly.”
“We have also had reports of vehicles covered by brown cards being impounded by the police in various countries following an accident, under circumstances where the driver/motorist should be released. Again, this is an issue which adversely impedes the free movement agenda of ECOWAS, thereby requiring member states to collaborate to eradicate its occurrence,” he added.
Curbing the trend
To curb the trend, Mr Bombande, who was the guest of honour, urged the Council of Bureaux of the ECOWAS Brown Card Scheme to persistently contact the department responsible for free movement at the ECOWAS Commission to appraise them of the activities of the scheme and seek the needed assistance, including legal matters and capacity building.
He also called for an established line of communication between the scheme and the commission and all matters followed up to their conclusion.
Ghana’s Commissioner of Insurance, Ms Lydia Lariba Bawa, expressed similar sentiments but said the issue was beyond the ambit of the National Insurance Commission.
She said the country had reported the matter to the ECOWAS Commission to deal with.
She, however, said sanctioning the countries involved would be a deterrent.
Most industry players, including the Ghana National Bureau Chairman of the Scheme, Mr Kwame Ofori, were of the belief that the ECOWAS Commission was needed to enable the scheme to appropriately fulfil its mandate.
He, therefore, urged ECOWAS to have one representative on the Council of Bureaux as stated in Article 6.2 of the protocol.
Source: Daily Graphic