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Opinions of Sunday, 11 February 2018

Columnist: Simon Bokor

A heap of sand, an accident and Ghana weeps over Ebony’s death

We weep, once more we weep as a Nation. Our tears would ever freely flow because Ebony who is, is now who was. She had not hit her prime but her brief manifestation was the talk of town. She liked being herself, cheerful and had a breathtaking talent.

Much, much more was she to give the world. Alas! It never was. We do not know how long we would have to wait for the Good Lord to give us another like her. So we weep and it was a heap of sand that rendered us like this.

A heap of sand that should not have been where it was in the first place. And that it was there for months shows our level of negligence and institutional bankruptcy.

Can you count the number of institutions involved in road and vehicular management in this country? – Parliamentary Committee, Ministry, Commission, DVLA, GPRTU, etc. They are so many yet the road accidents keep increasing. It means something is wrong with the set-up.

One noticeable area is the weak involvement of the District Assemblies and the communities. But speak to the typical public officer or politician and the ready response you will get is central government is in charge of highways and trunk/urban roads and the District Assemblies are in charge of feeder roads. But the highways and trunk roads cut across districts and do central government (MDA) have the resources including personnel to manage ‘their’ roads?

When the road contract is awarded in Accra people look up to Accra to come and fix it every time. In the contract no role is assigned the District Assembly or the Urban, Zonal and Area Councils in effect they become apathetic to the infrastructure. Otherwise how could the community in the area of Ebony’s unfortunate accident not act patriotically and remove that heap of sand?

The point is when the contractor (for whatever reason) leaves site Accra’s response is often diffused. That is to say, what decision is to be taken, who will take it, when it will be taken, how it will be relayed and how it will be acted upon. In effect hazards are created in the localities for the people and the ultimate is death. Must this be? Do we appreciate the essence of life and admonish ourselves that negligence on our roads should not be a reason for any death?

Ghana must think about its institutions again and ask where is their work supposed to be? If Accra, then, let it be but if for the people of this country mapped into 10 administrative regions and 216 MMDAs then the job must be done by them in the localities.

Otherwise our tears will not dry, our negligence and institutional incorrectness will only make us weep some more. And to Ebony and the others I say, ‘God Be With You Till We Meet Again’.