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Counting The Successes At Transport and Transforming GSA (Pt I)

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When the Ministry of Finance announced last Thursday that the Ministry of Transports had been adjudged the highest revenue collector (in the tune of US$3 million), for the period 2010, on its Tax Appreciation Day, there were jubilations and expressions of joy amongst officials and staff for a job well done of that ministry.

That success was led by its former Minister and now Director General of the Government’s General Services Agency or GSA, Mr. Alphonso Gaye and his team.

When Gaye and his team arrived at that sector ministry some 15 to 20 months ago, they met a system or institution that was factionalized, a division that had paralyzed the ministry over a protracted period, with employees paying allegiance to one faction or the other.

In addition to the factions, were overlapping of functions, amidst a swamp of vehicles and drivers’ license contractors.

The overlapping of functions and the dozens of vehicles and drivers’ license contractors parading the corridors of the ministry at the time did not only make the process of registering a vehicle or obtaining a driver’s license very difficult but it increased the fees of both and robbed government of the intended needed revenues in addition to fraud.

And so there was nothing to write home about in terms of revenue generation due to the chaotic system that was in place. But that story soon changed when Gaye, a former customs commissioner and his team arrived.

“One of our major challenges was to bring the employees that have been factionalized together to work,” Gaye said as he sat back behind his desk recounting.

But bringing the employees together was not all. The need for reforms and introduction of new policies as well as streamlining procedures that would have enable the ministry perform its statutory duties that were gradually being neglected was necessary.

“We drafted major reform policies,” Gaye said, “and streamlined procedures for the obtainment of drivers’ license and vehicles registrations.”

Gaye said as part of the reform process, the employees of the ministry of transport were withdrawn from the various borders wherein they were assigned, thus reducing the duplication of functions and the number of personnel at the borders from the various agencies.

Before the withdrawal, ministry of transports employees had formed part of what is known as joint security team at the various borders. He said the ministry felt that it could rely on the data collected by both the ministries of finance and commercial for transport related commodities instead of crowding the borders with its personnel.

“We were able to streamline and cut down the bureaucratic steps in obtaining a driver’s license from 12 to five and the number of minutes from the several hours of delay to just 20 minutes,” Gaye said.

“Our objective was to fall within the framework of the Government Doing Business Survey, reducing the bureaucratic steps,” he added.

He said as part of his team’s achievement at the ministry of transport, they were able to simplify the procedures for obtaining vehicle registration which now takes about 20 minutes. The rigorous reforms and new policies introduced by the Gaye administration have today earned the ministry the honor as the highest revenue collecting agency for 2010.

But Gaye is now at the GSA where he has begun series of steps that are expected to bring efficiency and transform that entity which is responsible for government’s assets.

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