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Opinions Wed, 30 Jun 2010

Fire Outbreaks in Ghana. Na Who Cause Am?

It is a fact that during the dry season in Ghana and extreme summer heat in most

parts of the world, farms and forests easily catch fire and burn down. When it

happens, it is normally associated with human errors. It has also been proved that

some megalomaniacs deliberately set farms and forests on fire as has been happening

in the U.S.A, Australia and many parts of the world.

Can we also say the same thing to what is going on in Ghana? Several markets in

Ghana have experienced fire outbreaks. What immediately comes to mind are the fire

outbreaks at the Makola Market, the Kumasi Central Market, the main market in Tamale

which destroyed goods and properties worth millions of cedis. Investigatons revealed

that all these outbreaks were caused by illegal wiring. Have the traders and the

electricity company taken action to redress this situation? That will be there for

all to see.

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During the PNDC/NDC era, there was a fire outbreak at the archives department of the

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation which destroyed all the football documentaries of

Osei Kofi, Baba Yara and Aggrey Fynn era. The Osofo Dadzie shows and several others

including all the films and documentaries of the excesses of the Rawlings revolution

were also lost. During that era, women were laid on the table by soldiers and lashed

between their thighs until most of them bled to death. Rumours were rife that the

fire was a deliberate act to dispose of all the cassettes whose contents revealed

the atrocities of the Rawlings' revolution. Imagine the harm this fire outbreak

caused to GBC and Ghana as a whole.

Not so long ago, the multi-storey building of the Foreign Affairs Ministry caught

fire and burnt down completely while the ill-equipped fire servicemen stood there

helpless. Was the fire deliberate to bury certain suspicions or just by electrical

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fault? The truth will one day be there for all to know.

This fire outbreak was immediately followed by another one at the Ministry of

education which was brought under control. Here too, what caused it? Did any of the

thousands of computers get destroyed in the fire? If not which schools have

benefitted from these computers donated by Microsoft? There are more questions than

amswers.

The last straw that broke the camel's back was the fire outbreak in the house of the

former president of Ghana and the founder of the National Democratic Congres(NDC),

Mr J J Rawlings. Some years ago, he had complained to Mr. Kufour to get him a new

residence that befitted his status as a former president. This was never done. Does

it also mean that when his party came into power, Prof. Atta Mills also closed his

ears to his demand? A lot of rumours began to circulate. Some felt Rawlings himself

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burnt down the house in order to make it possible to get a new house. One Mr. Dakwah

boldly came out to say that as he drove by Mr. & Mrs Rawlings house he saw some men

loading some domestic items onto a truck. Two days later the house was set on fire

and according to his assumption, by Rawlings himself. The man was arrested

immediately for defamation of character and he is still undergoing trial. A team of

investigators went to the burnt house but came out tight-lipped. One would have

expected the investigators to list burnt items like the remains of burnt

televisions, fridges and deep freezers, washing machines and so on. None of these

were reported by the investigators. Na who cause am? Aye huuhuuhu!!

It is hoped that the arrest of Mr. Dakwa will not be translated as the arrival of

the Culture of silence. In a democracy it must be possible for the citizens to

freely express themselves without fear of arrest. However, we should draw a line

carefully between insults and freedom of expression.

It is also important to note how much these fire outbreaks are costing the nation.

In some of the fire outbreaks, it will be important to invite foreign fire experts

and investigators to go into the causes of the fire outbreaks and announce it to all

Ghanaians. If this is not done, we will never know which Ministry will be the next

to burn

Written by Stephen Atta Owusu

Author:Dark Faces At Crossroads

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Columnist: Owusu, Stephen Atta