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Opinions of Sunday, 25 July 2010

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Ghana: Kapito’s guide to life in a crazy city

By George Sydney Abugri

The nightmarish traffic jams in the capital have become symbolic of the plight of an economically very productive but unappreciated city population trapped in a suffocating enclave of helpless confusion wherever you turn.
Observing the trauma people go through to get to work and back home every day, you get the impression that those in authority do not care two-and-a-half darned hoots either way, whether we live decent and ordered lives or stay stuck in a quagmire of chaos, needless suffering and undue hardship.

My humble thesis is that indifference on the part of the mass of our people has been responsible for our plight:

All we ever do is sit tight on our butts and grumble about traffic jams, unfair treatment of the public by some public institutions and poor service from tariff-happy telephone, water and electricity companies.

I was reading a reflective commentary on a passage of scripture the other day, and was struck by the anonymous author’s view, that “indifference is the most powerful force in the universe. It renders anything it touches completely meaningless. Love and hate have no chance against it. It is like HIV/AIDS.”

I said to myself, “oh boy, whoever wrote this is darned right to the last cognitive vibrating movement of brain matter.”

Long, long before Mr. Kapito and his band of animated utility consumer activists marched through the streets of Accra protesting the steep hikes in utility tariffs, I had always advocated that we the masses congregate in the streets from time to time and do some crazy and wacky things within the limits of the law, to draw official attention to our needless suffering.

There have been two ocassions on which I have come perilously close to falling out of a window in a storey block, Jomo. The first time was when I looked out of the window of a third floor flat in a postgraduate hall of residence of a university in the UK and saw two men passionately kissing down below.

What do you make of this gay thing, Jomo? Sane and respectable human males having anal sex! Even pigs, cats and dogs don’t do that and for Heaven’s sake, it is not my intention to cause offense at all.
The gay rights activists have got it all wrong: The human rights referred to in the UN Carter of Human Rights pertain to natural rights. There is nothing like the right to do wrong. What is unnatural cannot be a right, can it?
Natural Law is a concept which holds that there is inherent in nature, a set of laws created by God to which all humans must conform. These laws are considered from the point of view of common sense, to be so self-evident that they are easily observed by everyone.
A study of the male and female reproductive systems in particular should make it obvious to every sane person, that their natural function is to come together for the purpose of procreation. A physical act in which an anatomical orifice meant for excreting body waste is used as a sexual organ and which sexual act does not lead to procreation, is wrong.
It is physiologically weird and physically repulsive to the majority of people. Homosexual activity is an offense in the criminal codes of most countries including Ghana. There is no culture on earth from Australia and Europe through Africa and Asia to the Americas where homosexuality if not frowned upon.

For the sake of doubt, both the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible are replete with God’s warning against homosexuality. The numerous Biblical admonitions are summarized in Leviticus 18: 22: “A man shall not lie with a man as with a woman.”

Society and medical science have a responsibility to trace the causative factors behind the puzzle and help those willingly disposed to a sexual re-orientation out of their predicament.

Anyhow, I was commenting on those occasions when I nearly dropped out of a window, wasn’t I? The last time was when the man from the Water Company delivered the bills this week. It would seem that the hikes are really much steeper than we consumers were made to believe.

The Kapito Summit I have proposed would launch a comprehensive programme of protest-based action to compel those responsible to do something about the traffic jams, the chaos in land administration, poor utility services, the deplorable state of sanitation, armed robbery and other public safety concerns.

A coordinated programme of road transport management in the capital involving the Roads and Transport Ministry, the police, city engineers and in some cases road contractors where road construction is going on, should ease the motor traffic congestion, but we need to prod them to action as the story I am about to recount illustrates.

It is a story which is more factual than truth itself: The problem appears to have abated somewhat during the past week otherwise on every blessed working day for the past four months, there have been very heavy traffic jams on the Tema Beach Road and all arterial roads which feed it:

The road from Accra which passes through Baatsona, the Sakumono Estates and Sakumono Village, forks off at appoint in the village.

From the point where the road forks off, up to the point where the two divergent roads converge again to form a loop, is about a hundred meters. I have watched motor vehicles take between 20 minutes and on some of the worst days, up to an hour to make that distance before entering the main Beach Road for the maddening crawl to Tema!

Commuters from Accra who used to spend about an hour and a quarter on the journey to Tema, had until last week, been spending up to three hours making the trip. Yet this city is home to the most preferred shipping destination and transit point for shippers in the West African sub region. What is more, nearly all the nations manufacturing industries are located here.

Thousands of exporters, importers, factory workers and managers, traders, port workers have endured the ordeal for four months with only a lone commuter writing to the Daily Graphic to complain. How people could be so indifferent to their own plight is the nagging puzzle.

I set out in search of the culprit. Suspect number one was COCOBODS new warehousing complex whose gates open onto a main road. Fleets of huge haulage trucks entering and leaving the facility often resulted in the dreaded jams along the Beach Road and beyond. This being the haulage off season, the cocoa trucks were not the cause of the mysterious jams.

Next: Traffic cops have a favourite spot on the Beach Road, where they spend all day inspecting motorists’ documents and some say, their wallets too, resulting in traffic congestion along the route. I certified that the cops were not responsible for the unexplained jams.

Ah, gotcha! There is the culprit: A rough, irregular and potholed depression on the road at the point the railroad track under construction crosses the Beach Road:

Motor vehicle arriving at this point slow down almost to a dead stop and drive across as gingerly as if they were driving on very thin glass. Like the ripple effect of a disturbance upstream on a river, the result was the jams stretching for many kilometers along the Beach road and all arterial roads feeding it.

All that was needed was for the contractor and his engineers to have constructed a short diversion to ensure the continued flow of traffic at that point.

Had commuters converged outside the offices of the contractor and those of the roads and highways people and picketed all day, a way would surely have been found to ease the congestion, trust me.