Feature Article of Friday, 16 November 2012

Columnist: Wondoh, John

Are we serious at all?

At the IEA presidential debate, there was a particular statement that the presidential candidate of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Mr. Hassan Ayariga kept repeating that is worth taking note of. He kept saying, “We must take Ghana very serious” and all along I was asking myself, “Are we serious at all”.

How many people are willing to sacrifice for this nation? How many people would work diligently, not just for the admiration of their bosses but for the betterment and advancement of the nation? People are only interested in filling their own bellies, working only to satisfy their parochial needs without looking at the greater needs – the needs of the nation. How much do we value life in this country? Do we take life for granted? The decisions we take determine whether or not we value life. Every single life is priceless and precious to this nation; therefore we cannot continue to do things that would endanger the life of citizens and therefore put the nation in jeopardy. So many people are to be blamed for the tragedy that hit us in the face last Wednesday (7th November, 2012), the collapse of the Melcom building.

Some due to unforgivable negligence while others for intentionally doing the wrong thing Some of the rescued staffs are blaming their managers for the disaster. According to them, they were warnings prior to the collapse of the building. Visible cracks were seen in some of the pillars of the building by some of the surviving staffs three days before the day of the unfortunate incident. However, their supervisors told them it only needed plastering without paying any critical attention to the cracked pillars.

We are told by the AMA boss, Alfred Vanderpuye that the structure did not even have the necessary building permit. Did we have to wait till the building collapsed to know that it did not have a permit? How many buildings are out there not having building permits? Do I have to be scared any time I enter into a building because the building might just collapse? Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the ground shakes just for two seconds this country, how many buildings would fall. You see a one storey building today and the next day it has been remodelled to a four or even more storey building.

Do we consult our architects, building technologists, surveyors, structural engineers, geotechnical engineers and other experts when building, especially commercial buildings to ensure that the resulting structure is safe? Do we take for granted the regulations governing buildings? It is as if most of us prefer cheap to quality so instead of paying our professionals to do a good job for us, we rather rely on unreliable people who do not possess the necessary credentials. This is as suicidal as asking a nurse to perform the function of a neurosurgeon because you think it would be cost effective. Though the decision to be reckless solely depends on us, we should know that the nation as a whole would suffer from these decisions eventually.

So when at all are we going to take serious things seriously. Let us play by the rules because shortcuts are dangerous. Measures should be put in place to ensure that the greatest asset of the nation, its human resource, is protected from any preventable harm. Law enforcing agencies should ensure that citizens fall in line with the laws of the nation and also ensure that citizens that fault face the full repercussions of the law. It is high time we put the interest of the nation above our own interest.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the rescuing team for a good job done in rescuing the survivors, especially to the civilians who risked their lives to ensure that people were rescued. I think government should equip agencies like the police, fire service, military among others with the necessary skills and equipment so that we would not be found wanting in some of these unfortunate incidences. We should be equipped enough to handle situations like this so that when they occur we don’t go calling on other countries for help. We should have skilled personnel trained to remedy such situations. Long live Ghana.

John Wondoh

johnwondoh@yahoo.com +233(0)245957156