200 Ghana? For a license?!
I am now the holder of an official Ghanaian motorcycle driver’s license. I feel like a bit of my inner (or not so inner?) rebel has been lost, but as consolation, I ended up paying no more than the official 34 GHC fee and a 1 GHC dash to get it, so I feel like I am still pretty bad-ass.
Corruption at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority in Accra is brilliantly orchestrated. Applicants never pay a bribe directly to an official. When applicants come into the office, officials direct them to a handler. The handler, who is in no way officially associated with the DVLA, helps the applicant through the process—he assists with getting passport photos, filling out paperwork, and sending the applicant to the correct offices. The handler knows the process in and out, and has friends in the various offices.
The handler keeps the process as opaque as possible, often meeting with officials without the applicant present. The handler makes it a point to pay the applicant’s fees without the applicant present, hiding the true cost of the license fee. The handler then asks the applicant for a sum larger than the true cost. If asked about the discrepancy, the handler will say that the extra is needed to dash the DVLA officials so that they will process the application the same day. Presumably, the extra is actually split between the handler and the DVLA officials.
The beauty of this system is that no one can ever be caught for corruption. If an applicant complains, the only person who has ever asked them for extra is the handler, who is not affiliated with the DVLA and is just taking a fee for helping the applicant with the process. The handlers will never complain about the DVLA officials, because they make their whole living off the system.
So how did I get off with a 1 GHC dash?
I was smart, but I also got lucky. Before going in, I asked around about the cost of a moto license, so I knew it would be in the range of 30-40 GHC. Then I got assigned a handler who far overplayed his hand—he asked for 200 GHC to cover the cost of the license—lucky. I got lucky again when I said the price should be “30 to 40 Ghana”, and he thought I said “34 Ghana”—which turned out to be the exact price of the license. At that point, he pulled me aside, and admitted that the license cost 34 Ghana, but said I would need to pay extra to dash the officials to get the license that day. It’s possible that he may have actually slowed down the process on purpose; we hopped around to a lot of offices.
I decided to call his bluff. I started loudly talking about how I wanted a receipt for everything, and how I couldn’t trust him, because he had just tried to tell me it cost 200 GHC for a license. Exclamations and tongue clicks—Ghanaian sounds of disapproval – began emanating from the crowd around us. One woman poked the handler, asked “200 Ghana? For a license?!” and shook her head reprovingly. “Okay, okay” said my handler, and he ushered me back inside. A moment later my paperwork was approved. My handler and his brother the DVLA official shook their heads ruefully and speculated out loud about how I had known the price.
After seeing the receipt in my paperwork, I paid the handler the 35 GHC for the 34 fee. He left without giving me change. I thought he would be back, and I would have given him a small tip for his help, but apparently he was afraid I would start yelling about 200 Ghana again, and he left me to complete the process on my own, which I did with no trouble. He kept the 1 GHC change—but I kept his pen.
Here are tips to help avoid be extorted for money in Ghana:
1. Do your research. Know what the process should be, and know how much fees should cost.
2. Use the “R” word—receipt. Since receipts must be turned in, the amount listed there is the official price, and total receipts must equal total cash turned in. Always ask for a receipt to make sure you are paying the official rate, and that the money you pay goes to Ghana, not someone’s pocket.
3. Hold on to your important documents. Once your passport, license, or other difficult-to-replace document is in someone’s hands, you will have to convince them to give it back. And they may hope you will convince them with cash.
4. Be willing to spend time rather than money.
5. Be willing to call bluffs.
6. Don’t have tons of money on you. It’s hard to extort someone for more than they’ve got.
7. Know when a dash is okay. If someone is truly doing something extra for you, outside of their normal job, or if the dash is actually to compensate a handler for their assistance, it can be appropriate.
9/20/2011 01:04:11 am
Hah nice work Liz. Way to steal the pen.
3/29/2016 10:21:04 am
Hello, I've got a story!! My wife was born in Akron Ohio, where her father was from. Her mother was born in GHANA and came to the state's before my wife was born! My wife was 4 years old, when her father was killed with a lethal gun shot! Her mother decided that tiffany, my wife would be safe if she returned with her to GHANA, do to the extent of the murder of Tiffany's father!! She is now 33 years old and was left a very large INHERATANCE, bye her father, for her once she was married. She married me!! I'm a 49 year old man, residing in DENVER COLORADO. So, today my wife went to the courts in Africa to remove her entire INHERATANCE from GHANA, where it's in a trust fund, into the state's, in my account, so she can finally come back to the state's? Today, she got everything done and because her birth certificate is from Ohio, where she was born, where her father was born, my drivers license is also, from the state's, they won't use mine, they want my wife to now acquire a GHANA driver's license, to finish the process to get our INHERATANCE, which is in both of our name's? Ok no problem except that, she's ready to fly DENVER, to me this week, all her paperwork for everything is ready for her to return. Today, they told my wife that she would have to pay$350.00, for a driver's license, she's never going to need, except to go back to the courts tomorrow morning, with a license to prove her identification?? What the hell is wrong with the government in GHANA where they think that they can charge that kind of money? Does anyone know? I told my wife about an hour ago, who was already crying her eye's out over this that at the DMV anywhere in the united States, you pay $20.00 us dollars, for a license???!!! Because of my wife, being born in the state's, her mother who now has also passed away recently, never got Tiffany's license, so she never thought about it, before she went and completed everything else? All she has to do is go in to the courts and show a $350.00 identification, for five seconds and our INHERATANCE is transferred to my account, here in the state's in less than 12 hours!! We just got done paying almost every dollar that we have, to get my wife back here to me, where she was born? I just couldn't believe it, when my wife called me crying, that they think that they can pull that shit with people over there! Her father left her enough money for his only daughter for her and I to lve off for the rest of our lives, she's over there alone now, crying because she planned on leaving Thursday to be with her husband, me? I'm sorry for explaining so much but I hit the floor when I Google this and see all your emails, and it's true? Anyone have any advice, we literally just spent the last of our money, for visa, passport medical tests, flight costs, everything you have to get if your moving, to the state's, when you weren't born here? She was born here in the state's and because she was living and GHANA, since she was 4 years old tell now and she has to come here and get CITIZEN ship, all over again, when she was born right in the HEART of the united States of America, Ohio!! If anyone has any information at all of this license rip-off scam in GHANA and how to get around it, please let me know? Thanks.
3/29/2016 11:36:34 am
a. I don't know what license fees in Ghana are these days, but US$350 sounds suspicious. I think you can order services online now days, so you can get an invoice for exactly how much it should cost.
3/29/2016 07:48:25 pm
someapartk you so much for your information! I just got a FORSURE. om my wife and she told me that, our attorney in Ghana, felt so bad about this, we have been fighting to get tiffany and her INHERATANCE BACK TO the state's for three years!! We haven't even been able to see each other in over two years! So, because of our struggle our attorney we hired went back to the the courts and told them that they need to help us out and let the bank where the trust fund has been, since my father in law was killed and they agreed and are going to allow that BANK, to release enough of the funds to my account, here in the state's to get the rest of everything else paid?? No, tomorrow morning my wonderful little wife can go and transfer the rest of her money!! Wow, what a day! When my wife tiffany called me after all this happened this morning, she was crying out telling me that, all I want is to be there with you!! I've never felt so useless in all my life, to be 9,000 miles away from her and can't even give her a hug or hold her! God truly answered our prayers today and that kick but attorney we hired we'll get one HELL of a tip and recommendations, from me! But I wanted to thank you, for being the only person who tried to help? Tiffany, tried to kill herself, two and a half years ago, because we couldn't afford to buy the $7000.00 worth of documents, just to get her back to the state's, where she was born? I sent a very nasty firm and direct message to the embassy of the united States!! I think it's real chicken shit of my country to treat anyone, like they have, you know? Especially someone who was born here and has a birth certificate right there at vital statistics, in Akron Ohio, where she was born! She was a little 4 year old girl when her father was shot execution style, in the head! She got taken away to another part of the world for something SHE DIDN'T EVEN DO? HER MOM MADE SOME MISTAKES FORSURE! SHE WAS BORN IN GHANA, HER DAD WAS A VERY SUCCESSFUL LAND DEVELOPER FROM OHIO AND DID ALOT OF LAND DEVELOPMENT IN GHANA AND OTHER PART'S OF AFRICA? THATS WHERE HE WAS introduced TO TIFFANY'S MOM, TOOK HER BACKTO OHIO AND MARRIED HER, THEN NEXT THING YOU KNOW, MY LITTLE TIFFANY WAS BORN!! SHE'S BEEN THROUGH MORE CRAP IN HER SHORT 33 YEAR OLD LIFE, THAN ANYONE INCLUDING ME, BEING 17 YEARS OLDER THAN HER? NOW, SHE'S GOING TO BE LEAVING ON THURSDAY, FOR DENVER COLORADO, WHERE I LIVE SHE'LL ARRIVE AT DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ON SUNDAY MORNING AND MY LITTLE PRINCESS WELL FINALLY BE HOME WITH ME!! WHAT AN END TO A fairytale TYPE TRUE STORY?? I MET TIFFANY, FOR THE FIRST TIME WHEN SHE WAS 21 YEARS OLD AND I was 38, in CLEAVLAND OHIO, she was there for a few months to visit her other GRANDMA AND GRANDPA, that her mother took it upon herself to take tiffany away from them and take her to GHANA? I was married to my first wife for 29 years, I divorced her three years ago, because tiffany stole my heart, we were both born on March 3rd, just almost twenty years apart, we new that we were soul mates and after 29 years, I made the decision that my X-WIFE and I were not going to be together anymore? Tiffany got ahold of me again, just two weeks after I told my X-WIFE that I wanted a divorce, talk about fate, you know? Thats what I was talking about with the fairytale TYPE story? Thats why today, before the ATTORNEY worked his miracle for us, broke my heart and I thought I would loose my soulmate to suicide today! The only reason I told YOU ALL THIS Liz and talked you leg off, is because you are the only one who sent information and tried to help? Wanted you to know that? Thank you!! My little TINY DANCER is going to be back in my arms in five days and she's not going to try something carless, with her life again to try and kill herself again? She had found DDT poison, in her grandparents garage, at there farm in the Volta region GHANA, because I thought she was to young for me and didn't think we should be together anymore, she tried to kill herself the very next day, because I got drunk one night and told her that? The next day, her uncle called me from Accra and told me Tiffany took DDT and wasn't going to live another night!! She was IN ridge hospital, in Accra for six months!! Because of me telling her that, so I can't handle, hearing her hurt or seeing her in pain of the heart, ever again!! Thats what my little girl who loves me more than her life means to me! That's what I was supposed to be in my life, her man and her protector and her husband! What a day!! Thanks again for your help and for listening to the happiest ending, of a little broken heart again, from a little lady who lived in GHANA since she was for years old and now she's coming home, here in the state's when she's 33 good to TALK TO YOU Liz, she's going to take me on a West African safari, this summer, which is something that I've always wanted to do! And meet her grandparents that are still alive, still working a 3000 acre farm of mangoe trees, in volta reg
3/14/2013 12:03:39 am
This is what I call correct information given. Explained from start to the end, step by step.
3/28/2013 09:12:05 pm
My partner and i liked how we build every little thing, you can find you should not move deeper to find any extra facts. An individual mentioned each and also what too having much of alleviate.
4/11/2013 09:28:56 pm
I am happy to find this content very helpful and informative for me, as it contains lot of accurate detailing about the topic, which I was searching for. Thanks a lot and good luck.
6/18/2013 11:01:49 pm
Thanks for one's marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.
1/16/2018 02:05:52 pm
I need a license how can I do
4/1/2018 05:10:45 pm
Please can I get a Motto and vehicle licence(A B) done as one?
Leave a Reply.
I have worked in economic policy and research in Washington, D.C. and Ghana. My husband and I recently moved to Guyana, where I am working for the Ministry of Finance. I like riding motorcycle, outdoor sports, foreign currencies, capybaras, and having opinions.