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Opinions of Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Columnist: Alex Blege

Highway robbery: In light of the plight of the police

Every now and then there’s a news report on highway robbery on the high ways across most parts of the country. The victims of these highway robbers are passengers who are travelling from one district to another or from one region to the other. Highway robbery has become a phenomenon that the police seem unable to bring to an end.

It’s no pleasant experience to be robbed of one’s belongings and money. It’s worse when these victims are killed or raped in the course of the robbery.

These highway robbers attack their victims on highways where there’s no mobile phone network and ask the driver to drive into the nearby bushes along the road, there the passengers are robbed of their money and belongings.

The issue of poor mobile phone network should ring a bell. The mobile network communication companies have more to do since most parts of the country are unreachable in spite of the heavy presence and catchy advertisement of being across the country.

It’s crucial that the mobile phone network is improved to promote communication across the length and breadth of the country. Rapid information sharing is critical to foiling the operation of these highway robbers.

In all of this, the Ghana Police Service plays a major role. The police have been mandated by law to protect lives and properties. Unfortunately, there’re a number of unfavourable conditions that the police officer who is on duty on the highway finds him or herself in.

The unfavourable conditions include: the harsh conditions of the weather, sleeping in tents in lonely places making them vulnerable to snakes and scorpions, not having access to potable water and good food, not having access to proper sanitation, and they have no access to adequate vehicles and bullet proof vests.

Unfortunately the men and women in the police service can’t complain because the very moment an officer complains about these challenges that are faced in the line of duty, it’s misconstrued as an attempt to challenge the status quo. The police officer works with the mentality of the proverbial monkey who says: “I see no evil. I hear no evil. I speak no evil”.

Sadly, the police hierarchy pretends not to know about the plight of the officers in the line of duty on the highways. But this posture puts the officers at a disadvantage in the performance of their legally mandated duty of protecting lives and properties. This further gives a field day to the criminals in highway robbery.

How does it feel to have a police escort whose rifle is malfunctioning while he is travelling with passengers from Sawla to Fufuso or from Bolgatanga to Wa through Navrongo-Tumu stretch? The feeling is mutual. This is the reality of the police officer who is on duty to protect citizens on the highway.

Quite recently the Inspector General of Police made some pronouncements on changing the face of the Ghana Police Service. Well this is welcoming. The men and women of the police service must be motivated to fight crime. In jurisdictions where the safety of the citizenry goes beyond words, the police service creates an atmosphere that is conducive for the officer to be motivated enough to fight crime and perform the core mandate of protecting lives and properties.

Again, it was recently announced that the Ghana Police service ranks 8th in Africa. In spite of the challenges that confront the Police service we seem to be among the best ten. There’s more to be done to make the Ghanaian Police officer a world class officer.

Due to the changing trend of society and people’s activities the Ghana Police Service needs to offer refresher courses for its men and women periodically. When the police officer receives periodic refresher courses on the changing trends of society, best practices of combating crime, on laws of the land, human rights and relating with the public, it will reflect in the positive image of the Ghana Police Service.

The need to give attention to the plight of the police officer on duty on the highway is a matter of course. When the police officer is adequately resourced and motivated, it reflects positively in the performance of his or her duty.