You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2017 08 09Article 567705

Opinions of Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Columnist: Alex Blege

State of streetlights in Wa threatens public safety

Streetlights provide light on streets at night to enhance public safety. Sadly, the state of streetlights in Wa is nothing to write home about – they are either broken down or have developed faults on their own.

In addition, some streets have not been provided with streetlights – a situation that poses great danger to the safety and security of residents.

The broken down and faulty streetlights can be found on the following streets are: Banja and Wa to Bamahu just to mention a few, and streets that have not been provided with streetlights are Forest Bypass, Pentecost and Puohun Streets; and streets that connect Banja and Pentecost Streets to the St. Andrews R/C Basic School, and that of Wa Technical Institute to the T.I. Ahmadiyya Basic Schools and SSNIT residential area.

Security and safety of residents is a human right and the management of human settlement and ensuring public safety is one of the core functions of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) as stated in the Local Government Act, 2016 (936) Section 12 (3), “Without limiting subsections (1) and (2), a District Assembly shall (e) initiate programmes for the development of basic infrastructure and provide municipal works and services in the district; (f) be responsible for the development, improvement and management of human settlements and the environment in the district; (g) in co-operation with the appropriate national and local security agencies, be responsible for the maintenance of security and public safety in the district”.

From the above, it’s important to bring to the attention of the Wa Municipal Assembly the threat this sad situation is already posing to residents in the neighbourhoods where this situation exists.

The situation has made it easy for criminals to break into shops and drinking bars on these streets. This has a negative effect on the livelihoods of these shop owners. It’s a sad situation that businesses of residents suffer from criminal activities as a result of the dereliction of duty on the part of the appropriate authorities.

In addition, due to the faulty and damaged state of these streetlights, portions of the streets are dark in the evenings and it has become an opportunity for criminals to operate as they snatch phones and purses from residents from time to time.

Could it be sheer dereliction of duty or unawareness on the part of the responsible department of the Municipal Assembly? On the other hand, is it because there’s an ineffective police patrol in and around the neighbourhoods and the streets of Wa? Whatever the responses to these questions are, one thing needs to be made clear: the Municipal Assembly should work on the damaged streetlights and provide streetlights on streets where there’re none. While the police increase their visibility on the streets at night to forestall burglary and robbery attacks on residents.

Public safety can’t be treated lightly. It’s as important as any other issue. It borders on the safety and security of residents. In fact, to the extent that safety of people and cities feature in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

In line with making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable there’s the need to ensure that in the course of solving one developmental challenge, other developmental challenges don’t emerge – otherwise, our societies will move one step forward and then move two steps backward. For instance, one of the causes of the poor state of streetlights in Wa is as a result of the construction works of BothSides, a construction company that laid pipes for the Wa Town Water project late last year; consequently, the cables of the streetlights were dug up and left unburied.

A walk on Banja Street reveals the exposed cables which also become a threat to children, since they may be unaware of the danger it poses to them. It’s only proper that this construction company be called to pay for damages or repair the streetlights that have been damaged in the course of their construction works.

The provision of potable water is as important as safety and security – for potable water as well as safety and security are all human rights. When people are provided with potable water, they also need to be provided with facilities that enhance their safety and security.

All said and done, the consequent threat of the poor state of streetlights as well as the lack of it on various streets in Wa shouldn’t be business as usual, for the provision of streetlights promotes safety of residents at night.

The writer is a freelance journalist.