General News of Sunday, 23 February 2014
Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt, is full of praise for the National Security Coordinator, Lt Col. (rtd) Larry Gbevlo Lartey, for the demolition exercise carried out by his outfit at the University of Ghana, Legon, on Wednesday.
Kwesi Pratt hailed the National Security Operative for demolishing the toll booth constructed by the University of Ghana because the toll booth was causing "public nuisance" to the students and the road users at Legon.
The University charged the students and road users some fees for plying the road.
Drivers of vehicles plying the road were forced to part with some of their hard-earned cash in order to defray the $ 2.3 million loan that the authorities claim to have used to construct the road.
But the National Security pulled down the structure, ostensibly to curb the traffic situation on that stretch of road.
The action by the Security operative has since been met with disapproval by a section of the public. While some believe the University should sue the Security Coordinator, others like Kwesi Pratt, appear solidly behind him (Gbevlo Lartey).
Kwesi Pratt, speaking on Peace FM's "Kokrokoo" programme, believed the erecting of the toll booth was a "recipe for anarchy”. He explained that had the Security personnel not destroyed the structure, the traffic jam on the road could have been extreme.
He also argued that the toll charges were ludicrous since it inconvenienced some students who could not even afford "three-square meals" a day.
To him, though the University has rights which should not be undermined by government or any individual, it however should have acted within the ambit of the laws of the country. He revealed that UG authorities even rebuffed attempts by the National Security Coordinator to seek an amicable solution to the situation.
“That was a recipe for anarchy, total anarchy in the country and should not be tolerated. We don’t have independent Republic of Legon...It was even inconveniencing some of the people on campus. It was a major public nuisance which ought to be removed…critics lambasting the National Coordinator need to remember that before the demolition, Gbevlo Lartey wrote several letters to the University authorities to halt the construction for security reasons...," Pratt added.
He further opined that allowing the UG authorities to go ahead with the collection of tolls would have set a bad precedent.
“Should the Ministry of Education also claim they need about 10 computers but have only three, will they be right in blocking the road and collect tolls to purchase the computers? When Korle Bu needs certain medical equipment and government cannot readily provide them the funds, then it’s safe to assume they can go ahead and block the road leading to the hospital and collect tolls to purchase the medical equipment,” he said somewhat cheekily.
The seasoned journalist also sought to justify the dawn demolition of the toll booth.
“…it was appropriate that the toll booth was razed at dawn…demolishing the structure in the afternoon could have worsened the traffic situation on the road,” he said.