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Opinions of Monday, 30 March 2020

Columnist: Raymond Ablorh

Locked down under Mile 7 bridge in Accra


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Families rushed up and down gathering foodstuff and other provisions. Unending queues stood at gas filling stations.

Everybody prepared for a partial lockdown in Greater Accra Region and Greater Kumasi metropolitan areas as part of collective precautionary measures the President, H.E. William Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced recently to fight the spread of the novel COVID-19 pandemic.

The nation looks helpless as it seeks external facilities to fight the pandemic. But, more helpless are the homeless who dwell on the streets and under bridges in the affected areas.

In Accra, a friend, Kwame Kekeli Bokpe took a depressing photo of some people who have built a tent of mosquito net under the Mile 7 bridge on the Accra - Kumasi Highway. He says, "it's depressing..."

They are locked down under a bridge in the rich nation of Gold, cocoa and now oil. This is but the story of not a few citizens. There are depressingly many a vulnerable citizen like them across the affected cities.

They live at the mercy of perennial heavy rains and their concomitant floods in their homes on the streets. They have survived harsher seasons than such a lockdown.

But, this time, they will observe unusually silent roads and streets as city dwellers adhere to government directives and shut themselves up in their homes. Those who sold them food on the streets may not come. Those whose goods they carry for some coins may not come. Yet, their nets are empty.

Do we have any plans for such vulnerable people in the affected cities? Do we have some supplies for them? In times like this, do we have any place for them? The nature of what many of them do for a living makes them highly susceptible to infectious diseases. Some of them may be infected already. Do we have plans to test them as part of proactive measures to stop the spread?

Of course, no nation was prepared for this pandemic. Bigger and more developed nations are kneeling hopelessly under the burden of a plaque that seems like a sign of the end times foretold in Scriptures. So, it is understandable that a nation like Ghana will have challenges.

But, what makes her situation more pitiful is that such a naturally rich nation has to depend on external facilities in the face of this conspicuous threat. If external help delays or do not come, the implications may be devastating to say the least.

Jack Ma's donation to Ghana is in. Philanthropic citizens are also making donations.

The question is how prudently are these donations being administered to save lives; how equitably are they being distributed to impact the lives of those locked down under bridges in our streets?

Every life matters. Every life is important and needs to to be saved. How are we saving their lives?

Raymond Ablorh is a former student leader, professional journalist, media development practitioner, corporate communications specialist and a prolific feature writer who has written thought-provoking articles for the Daily Graphic and other local and international mainstream and online media since the year 2000.

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