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General News of Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Source: The National Tribute

Police Abandon Checkpoints over IGP's Order

The National Tribute Desk Report

Personnel of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana police service have abandoned checkpoints after the directive the Inspector General Of police, Mr John Kudalor that checking of drivers license and other vehicle documents in the country be suspended, checks by The National Tribute has uncovered.

The paper's checks at most of the checkpoints in the Greater Accra region have uncovered that most of them have either be completely abandoned or few officers found at some points unconcerned about what happens at the checkpoints and could be seen lazily chatting themselves off.

Almost all checkpoints at both Tema and Ashaiman and their surrounding areas have completely been abandoned, allowing drivers to commit lots of traffic offences with impunity.

One driver who spoke to this paper yesterday observed that since the leaked order by the IGP stopping the MTTD from checking some document of drivers at the various checkpoints, the officers who where manning the checkpoints at Tema and its surroundings have disappeared.

This, he said, has led to lot of traffic congestions in most areas as there are always no police officers to check the activities of some drivers whom he described as 'lawless'.

This revelation of the paper contradicts the position of the Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service, Superintendent Cephas Arthur, who said police personnel's would concentrate their efforts in regulating traffic flow in the most congested parts of the country after the issue was made public.

He added that routine crime checks would remain in force, but checks by this paper revealed another worrying fact that there are virtually no police officers on the roads to check crime and criminals, especially around the Ashaiman municipality where careless drivers are having a field day.

The paper can report that these drivers, some of them criminals, drive anyhow around the municipality with some carrying weapons freely because they have no fears that police would stop and search them at the checkpoints again.

But Superintendent Arthur, in explaining the necessity for the new directive said "It is about the exigencies of the time. We realised that the concern now is about the traffic congestion in our cities and towns."

"We want to focus our attention on traffic in order to create a more congenial atmosphere for commuters in our cities and towns, therefore, personnel on highway patrol are to limit their operations to inspection of cars for drugs and ammunitions only.

We also realised that the attention or focus (on vehicle checking) is too much on documentation, which is not so much a matter of concern to Ghanaians," he stated, adding that the directive would be in force until further notice and would be reviewed as and when it mattered.

Until last month, driving across the country, even doing short trips on both commercial and private cars, drivers were subjected to thorough checks by personnel of the MTTD at the various checkpoints. But the order by the IGP to suspend this vital part of policing citizens is rather putting the 2016 general elections in danger as criminal could use this period to stock dangerous weapons.

This paper's monitoring team can reveal that the country's checkpoints have transformed many of these once-busy places into ghost places without personnel and are now in various stages of abandonment and bad shape.

A senior police officer in Tema who condemned the suspension told this paper on condition of anonymity that "these checkpoints have become redundant and which is of course not good, especially during a crucial election year".

"When the police at the checkpoints execute their duties, criminals find it difficult to operate, especially at night but now the checkpoints look abandoned because the personnel think that they do not have anything to do since they cannot check drivers and their vehicles," the officer said.

It is recalled that a wireless message from the top hierarchy of the police was intercepted by the media which said "all motor checks in the country [are to be] suspended with immediate effect."
It said personnel of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service are to be "used only for traffic management duties.