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Opinions of Friday, 9 June 2017

Columnist: Vicky Wireko-Andoh

Choked with impunities and lawlessness – Let’s send offenders to clean mortuaries

I grew up knowing that everything beautiful has some glitter around it. But I am growing older by the day to realise that indeed all that glitters cannot be gold. Are we failing the glitter test as beautiful, friendly and warm people?
The culture of lawlessness and impunities is fast eroding any good name we have made for ourselves in the past.

Stiffer punishment is indeed the answer to killing this undesirable culture that has choked our society lately.

Every day, out there in the streets, in the markets, in the shops, at lorry stations, at work places, in schools, anywhere and everywhere, the overgrown bad thistles of lawlessness and impunities are choking the good achieved over the years, as a people. Instead, we have been exposed as the bad and the ugly.

What is becoming of our beautiful country with supposed friendly people?

And so, just over a week ago, impunities of the highest order cut short the promising life of a young Army Captain under the cruel and barbaric hands of a mob. Tears shed in all corners of the country the last few days over the suffering and eventual death of this innocent fine soldier could easily have filled the Atlantic Ocean to the brim.

Dastardly act

No words can describe the dastardly act of those who took the law into their own hands and the agony that their action has brought to the family and colleagues of Captain Max Mahama.

By now, if those miscreants have any conscience at all, they would have realised that we definitely do not live in a jungle where there are no laws and order. Ghana has enough laws to make the country a haven to live in but for some bad nuts who refuse to live and be recognised as civilized individuals.

We have cried too much, too loud and far too long about impunities in this beautiful country of ours. We have made mockery of the often-touted hospitable nature of the Ghanaian.

The embarrassment, the pain and wickedness intentionally inflicted on fellow human beings, the filth that we pile up in our communities and which are creating serious health challenges including malaria, the destruction of our environment and river bodies, the irresponsible dumping of human waste, in effect, the complete mortgaging of our country’s future by the few must cease.

Rule of law

The rule of law must work in our Ghana. A Ghana where one day the drop of a piece of chewing gum in a public space would be considered an offence punishable under our laws plus a sentence to communal labour in a mortuary where offenders are made to tidy up, wash and pack dead bodies.
We used to live in a country where orderliness worked so well.

As we advance into a high middle-income country, that order has given way to chaos. Our roads are chaotic with vehicles and unruly drivers, including motor riders, who are in a hurry more than anyone else waiting in a queue. And so, they will drive on the shoulders of the road, butt in and stop anyhow with no respect to other road users.

Street hawking and begging

Our pavements are even more messier with hawkers and beggars completely taken over. I could not believe what I saw in the central business district of Accra the other day. From the old Kingsway store through Cocoa Board offices down to the GCB Liberty Avenue and the Universal Merchant Bank area. Every space on the pavements are completely taken over by sellers.

Sometimes, they even spread their wares on parts of the road forcing vehicles to file in one lane. Amazingly, the mess is happening just a few metres away from the Motor Traffic and Transport outfit of the Ghana Police with policemen and women always at one of the intersections, managing traffic.

I do not comprehend why we allow hawkers and beggars on ceremonial roads and sensitive places like the close vicinity of our international airport, for example. What does it take for the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to ban and issue a stern warning for people to desist from selling or begging for alms on dedicated roads and streets?

Let us start removing recalcitrant offenders from the hot sun and send them to cool off in the mortuaries, tidying up and washing dead bodies. If they know their punishment is to spend 10 hours each day for one week washing dead bodies and cleaning up the place, would they go back to sell on the street?

As one drives around Accra, one notices that metal rails and fences intentionally put there either for aesthetic reasons or to protect pedestrians have been removed in parts. Some of these metal rails or boundaries have been driven into by careless drivers. Traffic lights are knocked down and no offenders are arrested.

As for commercial motor bike riders(Okadas), the least said about their impunities, the better. Everything about their existence is an embodiment of lawlessness.
We are faced today with an even more serious war against illegal miners, a legitimate fight to protect our waterbodies, the environment and our farm lands. Whether we win that lawlessness or not, time will tell.

Our cities and town planning officials have failed us big time. They have watched on for our cities and towns to be turned into slums as lawlessness has swallowed us up as kiosks, containers and ramshackle structures appear all over the place. People are building in waterways and so when we have storms, others suffer the effects of floods.

We have defaced our streets and major roads by erecting bill boards of not much relevance as if there are no regulations covering the citing of such materials.

We litter anyhow and anywhere with no conscience or sense of responsibility. Any wonder that malaria has become so endemic in our society with three children under the age of five dying every day? Any wonder that in this day and age, cholera still hunts us?

Depressing as they are, I strongly believe that as we press for the law to take its course on all acts of lawlessness, we should begin to adopt the culture of sending lawless offenders to mortuaries to clean, wash and pack dead bodies on daily basis to experience the results of some of their senseless and irresponsible actions.

That should send people back to their senses, especially in cases of mob actions which maim and kill.

We have glorified impunities for far too long. Unfortunately, Captain Mahama’s gruesome murder has kindled the strong resentments we all have towards people taking the law into their own hands.

As we lay the fallen hero to rest today, we wish his soul a peaceful rest in the Lord. Let his memories serve as a big no, henceforth, not only to mob in justice but also to all acts of lawlessness that have choked us to the neck.

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