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Opinions of Thursday, 2 October 2014

Columnist: Samuel Osarfo Boateng

Sonnie Badu’s hit song; the laughably tragic coincidence of the rain

It was one of the busiest days, working as a Service personnel in one of the country's renowned advertising, PR and Media Agency, Ogilvy Ghana. Just when I was preparing to kiss the day a bye, I heard an un-harmonious humming of different renditions from the company's bar.

I didn't need to be informed that once again, a September born was celebrating a date of birth. As consistent with the company's ritual, members of the different departments spanning -CREATIVE, PR, MEDIA AND CLIENT SERVICE- were expected to converge so they can join to congratulate their colleague by way of partaking in the cutting and eating of a customized cake.

I wanted to skip the ceremony as I am not a fun of cake. Mindful, however, of the fact that my colleagues had joined me in commemorating mine, I felt I was morally and ethically bound to reciprocate their gesture with my presence. I ended up shelving any thoughts of abstaining from the occasion, finally.

Before I could climb downwards to the bar, I realized that the usual cake aroma that greeted one on its way to the bar on birthday ceremonies had changed. This time around, it was an assortment of drinks, grills and other chops, competing against each other for the aromatic space.

I needed not to be told that this was a different occasion, all together. In fact my guess was so accurate. On getting down, I realized that it a sendoff ceremony for two indefatigable colleagues who had joined the Creative Service department from Ogilvy Kenya, some months ago.

As I had not eaten for the whole day, I begun to impress upon my mind to heed to the pleas of my stomach, which was urging me to stay over. In fact, on this occasion, the two organs demonstrated how well they could collaborate for a common purpose.

After the usual farewell speeches,(which I wasn't so attentive to),the time for dining and winning presented itself. In my usual collected manner, I approached the table to get some drinks and grills.

Without any palpable signs of an imminent rain, i decided to overindulge myself as it was a Friday.

Sooner than I had decided to stay, the thought of going home came hunting. I capitulated to this call by heading back to my office to prepare for home.

On my way to circle station, signs of an imminent rain became so glaring to ignore .Not only was the weather pluvial, more so, the rambling of the clouds was so menacing to ignore.

As I reached Circle, I was overwhelmed by human traffic which had resulted from people running helter-skelter with the view to escaping the scrounging effect of rain. As I join the race through the overhead, I saw the haste with which buyers and sellers were battling against time to pack their goods and ultimately escape any banter with the rain.

Nobody had advised me to run. The urge to run in escape against the rain was so instinctive and necessary to ignore. At this time, the expectation of getting a bus on getting to the station, was the only source of solace, as I couldn't get any safer and secure place to escape an imminent rain thrashing.

At this time, the clouds had given in. The drizzles was gradually degenerating into a full-fledged drops of rain. In a spontaneous respond, I doubled the sprint and steps of my running to the station, my only hope of a possible escape.

All along, i was so absolved in listening to some selected songs on my mobile phone as consistent with my stress-releasing ritual/therapy. Not even the rantings of the rain could prevent me from missing a lyric from the songs. In fact, I had configured the device to repeat all the songs after a first round play.

On getting to the Dansoman station at Circle, I had a shock of my life. I realized to my utmost despair that my hopes of meeting a bus at the station was completely Utopian. On the contrary, I run into a huge spiraling queue. In fact, I wasn’t the only one who possible felt disappointed since many passengers who were billed for other destinations were also in long queues waiting for a bus to avail itself.

It was in the despair and disappointment of meeting a long queue of a buss-less station, that I experienced what I term as a laughably-tragic coincidence. While I was waiting in the rain for a bus, my mobile device, my only companion which was serenading with my selected songs had gotten to Sonnie Badu's hit track,'Open the Floodgate of Heaven and let it rain.'

In the midst of my desperation coupling with this laughable but telling coincidence, I decided to put off the song so I don’t attract more rain thrashing from the floodgate as the song was urging me to pray for.

Almost an hour into my waiting for a bus, one finally arrived to our rescue. As stranded and desperate as I was, I couldn’t but join the fray in getting into the bus as many had muscled their way through the long queue.

My attempt, though successful, I couldn't stop the pangs of my conscience from pricking me. The thought of being unfair to many who couldn't endure the hurly burly of struggling for a space in the bus kept hunting.

This got me thinking as deeply as our bus maneuvered through the other long queues that had sprung the muddy and raining station.

As I had questioned in my earlier article dated 22 September 2014 and titled, Ghana; the queuing republic, I begun to broach over the thought of whether the government and those at the helms of affairs were aware of the stress and the quantitative value of the time wasted in queuing.

Through the tales of people who have lived abroad, I have gleaned that public transport is preferred to Private ones because of the comfort, reliability and availability of this transport mode. In fact, there are stories to the effect that some government officials, elsewhere, prefer using one mode of public transport to their own private cars.

This practice runs in sharp contrast with what we are experiencing in this part of the world. As resource constrained as we are, our leaders find monies to buy luxurious fleet of cars for state officials.

As they do not experience the vagaries and discomfort of waiting for buses, these officials are not able to appreciate the frustrations and discomfort therein in transporting oneself to warrant a more sustainable approach in devising mechanisms and systems that could nib the discomfort in transportation in the bud.

Not only is it financially expensive using the kind of public transport system that we have in this country. More so, the dangers one is exposed to in waiting for buses cannot be over emphasized.

I always shudder to ask why the 'Kufuor Buses' ends its operations at 6:00 pm, a time many passengers may be struggling for buses to their destinations after a long working day.

It is time real thinking is done. The lip services of most of our state institutions are "becoming unbecoming". I am not sure most Ghanaians are happy with the kind of transport system that we have here in Ghana.

It is on this note that I recommend that a more sustainable path is chartered in addressing the perennial transport ‘palaver’ which ends up in long queuing.

Samuel Osarfo Boateng
Ogilvy Ghana
samuelcreasta@gmail.com

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