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Opinions of Sunday, 12 January 2014

Columnist: Ali, Joseph Oswald

From Petty stealing to Murder; Wa Bleeds

The challenges of urbanization are fast catching up with the youngest regional capital in Ghana. Through divine or demonic providence, violent has outfoxed the other challenges of urbanization, the swaggering outplay of defiance to the law by these criminals on rampage is unsurpassed.
An otherwise genteel town which could only experience petty crimes like stealing of fowls, fruits and other petty stuff has now become one of brusque and ballistic display of robbery, shoplifting, murder and rape among others. The limitedness of size and population of the town would leave anyone who knows or sees the level of crime being meted out to visitors and residents alike stunned.
That said, knowing Wa since birth, never has a naked curfew been imposed unless issues of the chieftaincy dispute if thrown off gear. Today, a curfew has been imposed without parliamentary approval. The impudence and impunity on display has imposed a subtle curfew on the people in the municipal capital. Local chop bars and drinking spots are left in a state of panic and despair. Most hitherto used to close after midnight but in recent times for want of personal security since that of property can’t even be guaranteed often close before 10pm.
The heat of the town at night has risen despite the north-east trade winds with the intensity of a child’s fever. The most common locomotives which are motor bikes have become rare gems in the eyes of these criminals as gold is in the sight of ‘galamsey’ operators. From churches to night clubs theft of these automobiles have become common place like malaria in African children.
This devilry and vice meted out to residents seams to go unnoticed by the police officers. Despite the fact than they get a litany of reports by each passing day, they have emphatically and ‘factually’ stated that ‘Wa is the safest town in Ghana’. Though I reject this factually faulty proposition as most residents, granted this were true that Ghana undoubtedly would be the worse nation in terms of security globally. This left-handed conclusion being drawn by the police in my guise would be an affront to the fight of crime in two respects. Foremost, they (police) are satisfied with the current security situation and would do little about it. Finally, it would give the criminals the impression that, what they are doing already is insignificant hence, an impetus for them to do more. If the stance of the police is a public relations gimmick they ought to be reminded that the sin of spin is deception.
This fight against crime should not be trivialized because it is not meat for milk teeth. In all this, what is worrying is the perception and talk-of-town that some of the officers of the law are like Catholics from the coast who are in bed with the criminals. It is said that of the police collaborate with the criminals to the nadir that they direct people to a ‘warehouse’ for criminals to locate their stolen property at a fee.

In this homestretch, the air in Wa is stale and still in town awaiting light or doom. It has become imperative on the security services to map-out appropriate strategies to dealing with this menace squarely. The confidence officers of the law exude would be critical and relevant in boosting the confidence of the public in them. All said and done, the larger responsibility resides in the people of Wa to volunteer information to the police no matter whose ox is gored.