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Opinions of Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Columnist: Abdul-Yekin, Kofi Ali

The Ghana police blame the AMA for the lawless state of Accra

A gazetted officer of the Ghana Police force told me with authority that the lawless attitude, associated with the inhabitants of the Greater Accra Region, has to be blame on the Accra Metropoltian Authority (Assembly). The high ranking officer who claimed to be a gazetted officer and affirmed this by the three grey stars displayed on his shoulders, made this statement on the Monday 23rd of March, 2015 at Attia Close, Nima.
The above was as a result of a drama that lasted for about thirty minutes, with the police officer and myself in the centre of it all. I was driving my car through the junction of Attia Close with the New Nation Road, as I struggle to snake myself through the narrowed space, when I noticed the high raking police officer comfortably seated under a shrud by an uncovered gutter. I drove to a safe distance, parked the car and walked up to the police officer. I humbly, respectfully and curtsiousely exchange greetings with the officer. I then started to draw the attention of the officer to the number of cars parked in front of him, while the mechanics work on them. I establish my understanding of the traffic regulation and enquire from the officer if we share the same understanding on the Ghana traffic/road rules and regulation.
The first reaction of the police officer was to enquire whether I am a Ghanaian or not, implying it is un-Ghanaian to approach police officers and raise concerns regarding upholding the laws of the state. My reply to the officer clearly show a breed of the Ghanaian who was not in position to easily be brush aside while defending the sacred laws of my nation.
The location in question is not just a junction but a bridge over an exposed gutter, leaving a limited space to serve as the only access by which people enter and leave Attia Close. It is at this very location that mechanics squatt to repair cars numbering about five, with most of them not having engine in them, in addition to several other engineless cars littering the whole environs. Any sane person just have to be blind, not to notice that the location of these vehicles limit visibility and endangering to life.
The police officer confirmed to me that he is aware that it is an offence to park a car at any junction. He specified that it is against the Road Safety Regulation to station a vehicle within ten (10) meters of a junction. He confirmed that this obstruct the view of emerging cars and increase the possibility of accident happening.
The police officer then inform me that he is at the location to have his car repair by the mechanics. He added that he noticed Lawyer Akinwumi's wife just struggled to drive through the limited space and clearly show her anger by the expressions on her face. The police officer further confirmed to me that he knew the lady in question is Akinwumi's wife because he handled a recent case involving a theft at the renown layer's residence. The police officer added that the lawyer was once the Ghana Ambassador to Egypt, which made me believe he knew what he is talking about.
The police officer then said to me "I cannot ask these people to move the car now because I did not see the car parked there, as I believed it might have broken down car". I at this point denied that the cars did not just break down at the location and that most of them do not even have engine at all in them, giving the impression that this is their permanent repair station. The officer then said to me that he will arrange for the cars to be remove when he return to the station (I understand to be the Nima Police Station).
On further insisting that we, the residents of the Close, have spoken to the mechanic on several occasion and a word with them by the police officer will be very helpful, the policeman added that " I will do my best but the police have no towing vehicles to remove these cars. What is even the guarantee that these individuals will not put the cars back after we have left?"
I was not expecting this or any police officer to do things just because I want them to be done. I also understand that this police officer might be off duty or out of his jurisdiction area. I do however expect any police officer in full uniform to actively engage him/her self on matters relating to upholding the laws of the state, especially when health and safety concern is raised by a citizen. Clearly my fellow Ghanaian in uniform saw things differently.
I then asked the police officer for his Number to allow me know who I spoke to. The officer replied that he is "gazetted" and therefore has no number or expected to display any. He schooled me on this and told me that I can only identify him by his name. Reluctant to give me his name, he embarked on asserting his authority over me.
The officer started by saying "My brother, I believe in humanity first before the law. If I find myself in the course of my duty and the law says 'a car must carry only four passengers' I will allow a car carrying seven passengers to go by". He added "I dislike people who are inconsiderate and very arrogant when dealing with the law. After all, where has the Accra Metropolitan Assembly built a garage for car repairers to do their work, in the whole of Accra?"
I at this point realised that the police officer is applying his personal judgement over the laws (traffic laws) of the state. I had reasons to believe the police officer was calling me an I humane arrogant person and justifying why the mechanics should be repairing their cars at the location, heaping up the blame on AMA.
I found this unacceptable and unprofessional. I then asked the police officer if he subscribe to me selling cocaine in my locality, because the state has not given me a job or provided a place for me to earn my income? I added that the police officer and his colleagues are the reason why the invading mechanical miscreants are making our lives unbearable, despite every futile effort we have made to stop their anti social activities in our community. I told the police officer that his actions and expressions confirmed that the Ghana police service is in bed with the criminals who are breaking every law in our area and here he is having his car repair free of charge, at our expense.
Indeed the car repairers knew fully well that we the residents of Attia Close are law abiding. They knew that we will not take the law into our own hands, like others do, in getting ride of these unwelcome social miscreants. They knew we will be running like kindergarten kids to the unreliable police, for intervention, than do things ourselves. The mechanics just laugh at us as they park deeper into the Close, occupying our front entrances and our guardens. They know the tax payers' police officers are corruptable and affordable.
I will not end this piece without saying, the situation degenerated into a big verbal scuffle. In the space of five minutes, over eighty idle members of the public become part of the scuffle. A good number sided with me while others sympathised with the mechanics, as some others appeal for restraints. We had some of the mechanics drawing the screw drivers to defend themselves, as they made their case.
As these were unfolding, I seize the opportunity to remind the senior police officer of what happens when the law become meaningless to the people. I added that all these verbal threats would have been avoided if the police, who have been saddled with the responsibility of upholding the laws of the state, are ahead of the game.
As for our officer, he had repositioned himself deep into the mechanics compound (yard), occasionally extending and girrafing his head through the gated entrance, to appeal for calm. Clearly he was cornered and will not like his superior to know of his ugly plight.
Yes, the AMA had some blame in this but, this shows how ugly is the working partnership between the Greater Accra Police Service and our local authorities, across the region. If the town planning and enforcement of the Local Government By-Laws are to work, the police and the local authority have to do better than they are doing. The local authority has no police officers of its own to enforce its laws and this befall the police service to provide the back bone desperately need by the local authority in the course of its duty. It is an ugly sight to see our police officers displaying their lack of knowledge of the traffic regulation, in competing for space, in the middle of our poorly conditioned roads, with our commercial drivers. We need our police service and our local government to do better than this but this will only be the case, if we stop sleeping and start making them make our laws work! Accra is without doubt a very lawless place where "animalism" than "civilism" reigns. This is only the case because we have been cowed into accepting that anomalies must be our norms. Cowards do not build a great nation but Greate Men are those who do! Ghana needs you, rise and be counted!

Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin
Director
ECRA (ECOWAS Ctitzens Right Advocates)
kofialiabdul@yahoo.co.uk
(0233)0579096749, (044)07984445344
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