Ashaiman Rising, Heroes Faltering and KPMG Confused

Tue, 2 Jul 2013 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Critical News, 30th June 2013

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

Monday 24th, I set out to a day’s work in Ashaiman. This weekly ritual since October last year has made me a virtual resident in the Municipality. But just at the Accra side of the motorway, I answered a friendly call from a cautionary voice. “Best not to come all the way to the end of motorway; turn off at Abattoir and come round Adjei-Kojo”. Moments later, “change the plan, stay away from Ashaiman today, lets meet tomorrow instead, Ashaiman is on fire!”

The week before, I arrived at the Ashaiman spur just at the end of the motorway and circled round as usual into the straight entry into Ashaiman. Unlike other days, the traffic was light and free. The usual trotros and long haul vehicles were parked on the sides and there was a gathering to the left of the approach, where an open space with fitter shops (the traditional flooding ground in the rainy season) was hosting the Ashaimanese (I like this label, sounds very Burma primeval-forest-tribe-like, don’t you think?) driving community. I moved on quickly, conscious of the meeting time and grateful that for once I would not have to make excuses for the traffic and Goro boys who come close, yet never fender-bend, deftly turning, confidence carved from experience.

I reached the crossroads where you left to Adjei-Kojo and right to Mandela Park, rolled down a window and complained jokingly to the traffic policeman why are they not complaining to the DCE and MCE, the state of the roads and difficult traffic control they face everyday? “Massa, ya ka sa aaa, o mu ntie”. We exchanged pleasantries and moved on.

You see, in the last quarter of 2012, that stretch of road was impossible to go through, workers digging trenches and guttering, making life a misery for pedestrians and vehicles, frenzied activity not fooling voters as the election date crept forward. At one stage, that half-kilometer stretch took forty-five minutes from intersection to the Total filling station. We all knew it was a politician’s gimmick, but hey, the dread of losing the constituency was fixing the road. And of course it stuttered when voting began, then stopped soon after Afari Djan announced and the NPP herded us to the Supreme court.

The Ashaiman police station can easily pass as an advert for impenetrable entrances, a deep election-deception trench carved from numerous pitches for votes. Inside the station yard, a cavernous crevice yawns, waiting for the sloppy driver who might one day solicit local manpower to help “chooboi” him/her out of the trap. In front of the station, taxis and trotros vie for space with the police patrol Mahindras, jockeying for supremacy, but preserving the unspoken peace of Ashaiman.

Ashaiman is eccentric. There is a live and lets get on with life indulgence contained in an ecosystem of traders, transport types, police and pedestrians, all footing an intricate tempo, without disrupting the flow of commerce and motorcycles. Near misses and weaving traffic ignore one-way and dual carriage civility, roads started by the NDC government in the run-up to 2012, now abandoned with drains and gutters choked and brimming with filth and human debris yet to be challenged by Chorkor, South Odorkor and Agbogbloshie.

So as I listened to the Joy Newsfile team on Saturday morning I knew how wrong the panelists were in condemning the flash protest in Ashaiman. You need to live the harshness before you condemn the stand off to violently alert the establishment in contrast to a façade of public order protest. The roads in Ashaiman were so bad, when the rains came down the deep ridges created mud slurry and rose to tire level that seeped into your radiator as you grappled for terra firma. It wasn’t bad, it was downright horrendous!

On Tuesday 25th, repeat trip. Traffic was jammed, but not for the usual reasons. The roads had the fastest new surface ever and a grader from Gbewaa Engineering was on site under a smog overhang reminder, black tar spots conspicuous where burning tires had been the preferred guerilla weapon to establish the frustration with bureaucratic ineptitude.

Later that afternoon, a three-motorbike police convoy, sirens blaring, led a quad of gleaming Toyota Land cruisers, national flag traipsing along the now smooth surface as if to celebrate a major development in the town. A trio of Ashaimanese motor riders, weaving helmet-less, oblivious to the arrest power of the MTTU streamed past them with dusty impunity. Because that is what we have. Dust after the rains, potholes hidden beneath a deceptive calm. The Ashaimanese are back to a shaky norm but it is not over. It will take a small keg to fire this teeming mixed population in one of the densest cities in Ghana. The Ashaiman rising is the face of many that could come. Our Zongo townships reflect the silhouettes of political promises and tacit acceptance if only to maintain a façade of peace. Ashaiman has made its point.

Still in the Supreme Court, their Lords and Ladyships, taking exception to NPP Sammy Awuku’s brazen, in-the-face impudence in the media, without mincing words, banned him from the Court. And now Kwaku Boahen, Kenneth Kuranchie and Stephen Atubiga will also face this bench wrath come Tuesday, from similar if not worse comment. But Prof. Kwaku Asare (Azar for those of us who know him) disagrees with this process, arguing that the Constitution and case law are clear in our rights to freedom of speech. His petition to the Chief Justice might sway the Bench and enhance our democracy. Well, the lawyers can fight this one out, but reading Azar’s position, my layperson law tells me he is making a lot of sense and I think the Bench should take heed. However, if there is one thing I like about all this, it is that the Bench is now fired up and hopefully justice will take its rightful place in our national brand.

When we come back from Republic Holiday, we will celebrate with the USA on 4th July and also pray that our colonial masters will “bring themselves”, because now you might be able to over-extend your stay in the UK for three thousand pounds. The UK immigration service has showed their hand that Ghanaians traveling to the UK might be asked to deposit a bond and collect if they return on time. As we found out later, it is work in progress, but regular and social media suggest retaliation. Phoee! You pay three thousand and collect on return? Ga peeps say, “a me ke a me he eba”. Ghanaians have already started looking at the loopholes should this ever see the light of day.

And somehow, my hero Martin let me down. Hard. I disagree so much with the JJ tactic of exaggeration while not naming culprits that I found Mr. Amidu’s threat to let out names if further provoked by Government, not the style of Citizen Vigilantism. He should have gone beyond FONKAR and “Be Bold, Be Bold” and be bold again! Name them. What do we have to lose?

But I reserve my biggest disappointment for my accounting fraternity. Mr. Documents, Kweku Baako said he was shocked when he heard that KPMG would not provide soft copies of their audit report to the Petitioners. For me it meant denying similar to the public, which is what it came to at the end game in court. I am ashamed to say that KPMG completely misunderstood this part of their brief and I say they demonstrated a fundamental ignorance of the historical import of this event. This was not to be treated as a traditional audit subject to the regular ethics and guidelines of our profession. This assignment was beyond that, and should have been treated as a special with no loopholes remaining, ensuring that there would be no doubt after the count. With their way, they have disturbed the course of justice, got this wrong and even more than anything, did not emphatically clear the air about the count. So how many pink sheets are in play? 11,842, 13,926 or 12,736? Are there still some sheets in boxes uncounted? Is the NDC side now resolved? We are still guessing.

Yet again the police have refused a group of nurses their constitutional right to protest against harsh working conditions and one and a half years, no pay. Under the guise of protecting the petition hearing and court buildings from foot soldiers, nurses’ rights have been trampled. Then we wonder when Ashaiman rises?

All the same, Hearts of Oak beat TP Mezembe to the President’s Cup final, the Black Satellites whipped the USA 4-1, Egypt beat England and the Satellites make it to the last sixteen on goal advantage, Portugal next on the list. So is the world of football.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney