Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah has justified the decision by the Police to force people within the Kumasi metropolis to undertake community service as punishment for defying a directive to wear nose masks in public places.
Scores of people, mostly commuters and commercial drivers who failed to wear nose mask as directed by the Ashanti Regional Security Council as part of the COVID-19 protocols, were handed ‘instant justice’ by the Police in the metropolis.
At least some 30 people who flouted the directive were forced to handpick rubbish while others were made to sweep the streets to serve as deterrent to others.
While some people have criticised the decision as being against the law, the Regional Minister said it is justified and backed by law.
“It’s backed by the criminal law,” he said on Tuesday when he launched the Police-Zoomlion Nationwide Fumigation and Disinfection exercise in Kumasi, but did not give further details on the law.
Mr Osei-Mensah contended that not everyone can pay the set fine to impose on breakers of the Imposition of Restriction Act but for community work, everyone is capable of helping keep the environment clean.
“We know if we take people to the law court, the minimal charge of about 12,000 cedis, how many people can afford?” he asked but said helping clean the environment is something “that one anybody can do”.
According to the regional minister, authorities do not take delight in punishing people for flouting the nose mask-wearing directive but that has become necessary because people have become recalcitrant.
He maintained that persuasion has failed for which reason force ought to be applied to send the right signal to the people within the metropolis and the region to ensure that the deadly coronavirus is contained.
“We are not happy punishing people but when we try to persuade people to abide by the norm and it fails, force must be applied…it’s gotten to the point where force is being applied,” he explained.
He added: “We are going to continue this exercise until we realise that people have changed their way of behaving… if you’re arrested by the security, you will also go through the same punishment”.
Leaders in the Ashanti Region, he noted, are not happy that the region is second to Greater Accra in the number of COVID-19 cases recorded in the country, indicating “we wish we could flatten the curve” in the region for the cases to begin to decline.
For that to happen, he said, there is the need for all to observe the protocols which he advised, should not be taken for granted.
“Let’s all help each other to ensure that we contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the country,” he appealed.
Police officers, suspects test positive
Describing the fumigation and disinfection exercise as timely, he expressed the hope that it will prevent the COVID-19 scourge, but said, it should be complemented with adherence to social distancing, regular hand washing under running water and regular use of hand sanitisers.
ACP Adjem said some suspects and police personnel in the region have tested positive for the coronavirus but declined to give details on their numbers and conditions.
“As you are all aware, there have been cases where we’ve had cases of positive from some of our police cells and then some of our men have also tested positive for the virus because they were the persons who at the forefront,” he said
He said it is therefore refreshing that the exercise has finally kick-started in the region
“We are sure that it will be a successful one to help us contain this scourge” he stated.
The disinfection, fumigation exercise
A total of 158 police facilities in the region are being disinfected and fumigated against COVID-19 and other microorganisms as well as bed bugs, rodents and other insects.
The exercise which begun from the Ashanti Regional Police Headquarters in Kumasi saw the Central, Ridge, Railways, Zongo, and Adiebeba police stations, as well as cells and bungalows within the Kumasi metro, disinfected and fumigated on the first day.
Other areas disinfected and fumigated for the first day were Ayeduase, Bomso, Kotei, Appiadu, Oforikrom, Airport, Manhyia, Buokrom, Asawase, KNUST, Asokore Mampong, Paakoso, Boban police stations.
The Zoomlion spraying gang will in the next five days move round all the police installations in the region for similar spraying exercise.
The disinfection and fumigation exercise is expected to create a more conducive atmosphere for police personnel and users of their facilities to keep safe Zoomlion audience and full support to undertake the exercise.