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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

MTTU: Attack the Real Problems and Not the Symptoms

“Ban all second- hand imported Tires,” while we’re wantonly consuming lead- saturated and toxic contaminated foods, imported from abroad.

Just Weighing in on the import used- tires banning debate:

TO THE WHINERS at MTTU, Ministry of Transportation, and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Services……….

Yep, I said it... this is to all of you whiners who love to outsource responsibility and accountability and blame everyone but yourselves. Every mistake is someone else’s fault.

Using imported used- tires banning to atone their deflated images:

If all goes as expected the Police Motor Transportation and Traffic Unit (MTTU) and Customs and Excise Services will soon ban the importation of used tires into the country. Yeah, Way to go….. Brilliant idea! Banning used tires? I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic ! .

Blame the motor accidents on the used- imported tires instead of the drivers who constantly gab on their cell phones when they are supposed to keep their eyes on the road. What about lack of regular mainte-nance? Blame it on witchcraft or on your grand-mother, when the brakes on your vehicle give up on you. Ghanaians have the tendency to blame everyone else, but themselves when they screw-up. Why can’t the police charge the drivers who ride around with defective tires? Don’t hold your breath!

That’s just a warm-up!

Listen to me on this one: I was surfing the web the other day and I came across a piece captioned”Used -Tires imports face Ban”. According to the article, the commander of MTTU, ACP Daniel Avorga, who allegedly confirmed the story on the Joy FM radio that” many accidents cases where tire bursts preceded the actual accidents, bad tires were the causes” .He also confirmed that,” the tires were second – hand tires imported into the country” In other words, the imported used tires are responsible for the rampant car accidents we experience in our part of the world.

Yep, not the over-speeding, not wrong over-taking, not distractions, not poor -vehicle maintenance and not bad road networks. I beg your pardon!

I don’t dispute the fact that bad tires are sometimes responsible for most of accidents, but for their own greediness and selfishness, some drivers decide to use bad or defective tires and that has nothing to do with import tires. After all, Ghana doesn’t produce tires .So my question is: what are the drivers or the vehicles owners’ role in all that? I don’t think banning imported used- tires will stop them from using defective tires on their vehicles.

This reminds me of a story about a lady who sued the McDonalds’ restaurant when she accidentally discharged a hot –cup of coffee on herself. She claimed it was the fault of the people who sold her the hot coffee; therefore it was their fault that she got burnt .Mindful of the fact no one drinks warm coffee in America—it has to be hot. Anyway, her lawsuit was thrown out of court for lack of insufficient liability claim. If you screwed –up play the shift-the- blame card. . Hello??

What is wrong with that picture? Wait just a minute here: What happened to responsibility? Don’t we take responsibility any more? It seems annoying to have grown-up people continuously putting the blame on others for their own stupid faults and shortcomings. So the government is banning used-imported tires simple because they cause motor accidents? Perhaps we need a little force to administer a serum of responsibility and accountability into our drivers and Police on our roads...

What is the logic in that? Am I the only soul on this planet who thinks it’s stupid policy? Why stop there? Let’s ban all used household appliances ,second -hand clothing, used –bags ,used- vehicles ,used -cell phones and any used electronic gadget, The list is long ,but you get my point. Not only some of these items are contaminated with blood-borne pathogens that can cause deadly diseases, but they are also very defective and health hazard.

Yeah, in this global economic downturn the top priority is to ban the importation of used -tires. I would surely like to know the status of the nation after the ban is put in place. Please someone should call me and if you have no units flash me and I’ll call you back. (Another joke!) It defies all expectation and logic.

O’ mine, o’ mine! This shifting- of- responsibility has engulfed the entire society and our students are in it too. .You know damn well, if you watched too much TV and party every night your academic grades are going to be lousy. But don’t worry; you can still blame that on your school, teachers or parents. Nope, it’s not your own damn fault. Why take the responsibility if you can blame it on someone?

The drivers are not responsible for their actions. The Politicians are not responsible, parents are not responsible, our leaders are not responsible, and the police are not responsible, the government is not responsible. No one is responsible .So we can easily outsource the blame and accountability. I’m mad as hell ! .I’m getting a headache, pass me the Tylenol !

By now, you can tell I have a personal grudge against people who are lazy, lack of integrity, irresponsible and fail to be accountable and afraid to stand up for something positive.

You might think my indignation is too excessive. But, if you understand what these traits are doing to the nation and our individual progress you would revise your opinion. As a nation, we have no problem spending our last coins of reputation for principle and sound judgment to buy a short-term gratification. Do I need to go on? Please don’t get me started!

Unfortunately, for decades we have lowered the ethics bar and we religiously keep low –balling our expectations for ourselves, our kids and one another, all in the name of instant gratification or unwillingness to accept responsibilities. The celebration of low expectations in our part of the world has slowed the fire that powers the engines of productivity and progress .Do they ring a bell? Employers care less, Poor employees’ morale, poor customer service, poor service and lower profit. We’re all victims as well as perpetrators so don’t take yourself off the hook yet.

But, with the new global economic order we need a new culture of accountability and responsibility. Failure to be responsible or accountable breeds the mindset of victimhood. And, that makes it impossible for one to come to terms with one’s own actions (or inactions) and stupidity, as the contributing factors to one’s own circumstance. If we raised the standards and expectations people will work up to those expectations and standards.

Isn’t the whole world now witnessing the evidence of people’s refusal to be responsible and accountable? No one seemed to care when things were good and as a result we’re all paying for our mistakes: The battered stock-market ,job losses, housing foreclosures , frozen credits, and future retirement plans are being put on hold indefinitely--- are the indicators of a major human errors .But, who will accept the blame and responsibility?

Oh where were we?

Obviously, it is not the responsibility of the drivers who use used-imported tires on their vehicles to check their durability on regular basis. What about if they bought brand new tires and failed to replace them when they worn out? Whose fault would that be? We must as well ban the consumption of high -octane liquors, driving with “charlie-watey” and cell phones. They are all part of the motor- accident equations, in Ghana.

That kind of thinking not only insults our collective intelligence, but it perpetrates the notion that we have no role in our plights and circumstances. Remember, the best way to secure one’s future is to create one.

Oh I got it: The MTTU has a new way to generate instant revenue huh? It would go like this: Hey driver, stop your car. I think you have two- used imported tires on your vehicle which is a felony .What do you want to say to that?” You know the rest of the story, folks! Money would exchange hands, Yes, money, not a paper charging an offence. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Sure it does! How can such a public outfit descend so low?

Who is responsible for issuing the road wealthy certificates for vehicles in Ghana? Oh, if I may ask, who checks them on the roads to ensure compliance with the laws and road safety regulations? Heads will roll in some parts of the world if authorities failed to take appropriate actions to reduce such a menace. May I know if performance measurements are taken any seriously by the government ,before disbursing funds for operations of its departments and agencies? . Hello, the MTTU and others need serious attention.

To those who want to solve our problem, go for the real cause of it. Don’t mask the problem. Attack the cause head -on. If it is the worn-out tires contributing to the accidents, then deal with that effectively. Banning used imported tires would not take bad tires off our roads .Let’s not fight the growth of motor accidents with a band-Aid solution. But, before you jump to conclusions, I have nothing to gain from used imported tires by way of trade. I just hate to see people running away from their problems.

But to you whiners…….you can……oh, well, you can figure last one out, can’t you?? Stop fooling yourselves and come up with a better solution.

Oh, one more thing: What happens to RESPONSIBILITY? I guess not in Ghana because of the low expectations we have for ourselves and everybody. We surely don’t expect any one to do the right things any more. So if they don’t perform then, we have no disappointments or indignations to express. We have lowered our expectations for our service providers (Hello, MTN?) .We have lowered our expectations for our community leaders to deliver an exceptional service. Our MPs are not accountable to the people who elected them, but they will come for votes every four years. In essence, we have watered down our expectations, so we can lie to each other, and ignore and glorify failures and inadequacies.

Now, speaking of ‘banning’ why don’t we dissolve the MTTU and use the manpower to police crime infected areas? Do we really need “specialized traffic Unit” to police and control traffic, when motor accidents are claiming the nations’ most important resources? The MTTU police are only active when they smell a driver who can afford to give bribe.

Wait a minute, isn’t the duty of the MTTU to control; and direct traffic? I must be sleeping!

This reminds me of an incident I witnessed in Accra, during the last Christmas holidays. I stood by the ABC junction for about an hour and half waiting for a taxi. Then all of a sudden there were commotion and congestion. The road was jammed –packed with articulator trucks and buses-all trying endlessly, to go around each other, without coordination .As a result ,an argument erupted between several drivers which almost grew into a full- blown fist -fight.

An hour passed and there was no end in sight. Every body was souped- up and ready to cause possibly, deadly bodily harm. As I stood there watching this middle- of- the- road event unfolding, two MTTU troopers came by riding their newly-issued motorcycles. “Thank God, It’s over”, I naïvely murmured to me, filled with a lot of hope and relief .Not so soon, pal ! I was wrong.

To my surprise, these two police officers zigzagged their way around the traffic and the commotion without a blink. They did not even look or stop to find out what was transpiring .I guess that was not part of their job. We can blame it on the road .Whose Responsibility was that? What responsibility?

Taking responsibility is the most critical step toward success we can ever make in anything; either personally or professionally. The ability to take responsibility for everything we do and everything we have is the biggest challenge we will ever face in life. So let’s throw our excuses out the window and leave our so-called ‘reasons’ at the door. There are people who face much bigger challenges than we do, and they still figure out ways to solve them.

Let’s stand up for something positive. We have to be uncompromising in our expectations, standards and values. Forget about the blame. Spend your time fixing the problems because we’re all part of the solutions.

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi NJ, USA

*The author is a social commentator and the Founder of Adu-Gyamfi Youth Empowerment Foundation of Asuom, Akim E/ R.