The Western Regional Head of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, DVLA, Emmanuel Narh, has openly stated that his outfit does not issue licenses to every Rastafarian who applies for one.
Although this is not backed by the law that set up the DVLA or a recognized regulation, Mr. Narh, boldly singled out Rastafarians suggesting that some of them smoke ‘wee’ or are from the ghettos and might pose a risk behind the steering wheel.
Mr. Narh, who was speaking on Takoradi-based Skyy Power FM, revealed that his office does some background checks on Rastafarians to ascertain their fitness for a driver’s license.
This was in response to a listener who had texted into the show to demand answers from the DVLA for the refusal to grant drivers’ licenses to some Rastafarians.
“For the work that we do, we have a code of ethics and we have drivers’ conduct. Before the DVLA trains or approves of you as a driver, we need to watch you closely and examine you physically. We need to know if the person is above eighteen years; are you somebody who’s sound in the mind and do you have a good sight?”
“In Ghana, there are two types of Rastafarian groups; there are those who are Rastafarians for religious purposes. When you come to DVLA, it’s not every Rastafarian that we don’t give licenses to. We ask you; if you belong to a credible religious group, you need to show us an ID, then it convinces us that may be in your family background, there’s a reason why you don’t have to cut your hair. When that happens, we can give you the license. Or that you belong to a Rasta religious group that comports itself very well; that way if you show us your ID, we will give you a license or take you to a driving school for training.”
“But if we don’t identify you as belonging to any of such groups and that you came from some ghetto with your unkempt Rasta and we have all the evidence, nobody will mind you. There are some of them when they come, apart from the Rasta, if you look at their eyes and demeanour, you can conclude that he has smoked terribly. So such a person, you can’t give him the license, I am speaking the facts” he stated.
Mr. Narh went on further to give an instance where he literally compelled his relative to cut down his dreadlocks before he allowed him to go to a driving school, after which he helped him to acquire his license.
When he was asked by the host that his relative could go back to his dreadlocks after acquiring the license, Mr. Narh said he would surely find him out when his license expires and he attempts to renew it.
Mr. Narh’s views were given impetus by another guest on the Morning Show, who also expressed shock about why a Rastafarian commercial driver was once allowed to drive a car on the Swedru Cape Coast stretch.
Mr. Kwesi Ansah, a former 1st National Trustee of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union, GPRTU, said that Rastafarian commercial driver who was a known ‘wee’ smoker, was eventually sacked from the station.
He claimed the driver at one point in his journey could not take his passengers to their destination because he had smoked excessively.
Remove Regional DVLA head
The Rastafari Council, Ghana, the umbrella body of members of the Rastafari Faith which is appalled by the actions of the DVLA Boss, is requesting for his removal.
In a statement signed by its National President, Ahumah Boscoe Ocansey, they said “he is not fit to hold such a dignified public office as he is on record to have made assertions along the lines of denying drivers’ licenses to members of the Rastafari Faith. This pronouncement by the Western Regional DVLA head is an affront on Article 21 (c) of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution that guarantees the rights and liberties of all Ghanaians devoid of religion.”
“On what basis can one deny granting of a drivers’ license to a Ghanaian on the basis of religion? One must also be educated that not all who wear locks are members of the Rastafari Faith that is a belief system that the 1992 Constitution guarantees under the Freedom of religion in Article 21 (c).”?
The Rastafari Council called on “the likes Emmanuel Narh and Ben Kwesi Ansah to exert their energies on ridding the roads of rickety vehicles and alcoholic drivers instead of being myopic and bigoted against members of the Rastafari Faith.”
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