Papa Samo Goes Home: Part VII

Sun, 23 Oct 2005 Source: Berchie, Kwaku Duah

I have some clarifications to make. I did not involve myself with any of the shenanigans that went on at Lydia?s house. Also, with the exception of Akwasi, D, and myself, I used my artistic license to alter the names of all the females involved in these series. I am therefore urging all who have been led astray to forgive me. Once again, what went on in Lydia?s house was not something I was involved in. I hope that helps to remove me from the sofa into my comfortable big king sized bed.

I left Kumasi the next day, and headed straight to Accra. I had millions of cedis of reasons to do that. To begin with, I had to clear my ?things? from the dreaded Tema Harbor. Also, I needed to join the rest of the American crew I had painstakingly finally convinced to come to Ghana to scout or investment potential and opportunities. The Accra-Kumasi low way was jammed with careless drivers as usual. At Ejisu, an over zealous police constable stood right in the middle of the road to make sure we recognize his signal for us to stop.

His problem?

Our car has the trial number stuck on it. The corrupt police officers see this as an opportunity to amass more illegally gained wealth. As I later found out, the ?law? clearly states that a vehicle with a trial number is supposed to be occupied by a certain number of people. Most of the times, people have more than the required number packed in a car. That is against the ?law?, so in order for our ?hard working? men in black to leave drivers alone, the police have come up with a very lucrative and profitable idea. Instead of enforcing the law, why not just create a fund raising endeavor so that drivers who break the law will be coerced to donate for the pot bellies of all the police fraternity?

So, it came to pass that the lanky skinny policeman stood right in the middle of the road at Ejisu like a confused and surprised sheep, and held his hand up high for us to stop. I was furious. The driver could see that. He swerved a little bit so as not to hit the ?kotiman?. Then he asked me to be patient and not say a word. The officer headed towards our car, the driver got out and met him half way, and this conversation occurred between the driver and him.

?Why are you standing in the middle of the road??
?There is an order from the Castle to?..?
?For you to stand in the middle of the road??
?No big Boss, we are checking for armed robbers?
?Do we look like armed robbers??

By this time, he had reached the front passenger side of the car. That was exactly where I was sitting. I must admit that I have gained a lot of weight over the years, and in Ghana, most of the over weight or obese guys are those with money and power. I was wearing a business attire-white shirt, tie, black pants (trousers) etc. The police officer might have assumed me to be a very important somebody from Accra because as soon as he saw me with my puffy face, he started talking in ?tongues?.

?Sir, you see, I don?t make the rules. I only make sure they are enforced?blah, blah, blah,?
?I understand, Mr. Nyame, let?s continue?

I later got to know that the policeman would have taken at least five thousand cedis from us because my car does not have a warning triangle, a flash light, a fire extinguisher, and a host of other things. Many people would rather give in and pay the ?small gift? than to be delayed and even risk of facing a magistrate or a judge! Because of this state of affairs with our police, the MTU part of the police force is an enviable unit. You can easily get rich once you do the right thing and get posted over there. Rumors have it that, just like the CEPS, one has to know the big wigs before you can be a part of the MTU department of the Ghana police. Though the police are relatively doing a much better policing than some time past, pray that your car does not get involved with a tro-tro or a taxicab. This is because most of these vehicles are owned by the MTU police who collect money from drivers and buy themselves fleets of commercial cars. If a police officer at an accident scene realizes that a ?myself? car is involved in an accident with another officer?s commercial car, that officer will do all he could to make sure his fraternity Brother won?t be at fault. The ?myself? guy better be somebody important or popular.

After we left Ejisu, we drove peacefully until we got to the village of Odumasi. To those of you who don?t know this place, there are two villages (Konongo and Odumasi) who have grown to be of an urban center. From Kumasi to Accra, one will go through Odumasi before Konongo. I had my secondary education over there. And for eight years in the 1980s, I knew the topography of these two towns like the back of my hands. I wanted to go to the school and see how things are holding up or falling apart. That was going to add about thirty minutes to our commute time to Accra. There is a steep hill that slopes towards the Odumasi Township from the Kumasi direction. Before we got there, we saw a pile of cars on both sides of the one lane ?international? highway. What tweaked my brain was the fact that all the cars were supposed to be going towards Accra. In a one lane highway, that means that oncoming cars from Accra will collide and create an oblique impact with the ones from Kumasi.

Fortunately, all the cars were at standstill. We parked behind a Toyota Sequoia, and after what seemed an eternity, I got out of the car and decided to find out what the whole mess was about. I walked for about half a mile and just near the top of the hill from the opposite direction, I saw about four big timber logs scattered about and blocking the road. There was this heavy duty Caterpillar machine that was being operated to clear the timber truck which had capsized and the logs from the road. You could see that the timber truck did not have any chains to hold the logs together. My theory is that the driver tried to climb the hill, but the overweight and unsecured logs shifted and overturned the whole truck. The good news was that nobody was injured or killed. The bad news was that the police MTU was not present. Ordinary citizens were helping to clear the road! Where are our police on the roads when you needed them most?

It took about forty five minutes before the whole chaos was cleared. Before we were able to move forward, I decided to count all the SUVs that were on the road. Remember the uproar that followed NPPs petrol increase in January? It seems it had no effect on most of the motorists on our roads. I counted at the very least seven Toyota Four Runners, eleven Pajeros, six Toyota Sequoias, about six jeep Cherokees, four or so Nissan Pathfinders, and a host of other Korean and European petrol guzzling vehicles. Even American SUV users are crying and trading their monsters for less petrol consuming cars but our Ghanaian chaps are enjoying their fully ?nya nya? vehicles. One remarkable thing I observed also was the fact that everyone wants the world to know which secondary school they attended. That to me is a good thing. The next step should be helping our former schools to attain academic and athletic greatness.

As soon as the logs and the timber truck were moved out of the way, pandemonium struck. The drivers who have stupidly positioned themselves in the path of the oncoming traffic realized their mistakes. They wanted to cut in and get into the right lane. Those in the right lane refused. It took the resilience of the Caterpillar equipment operator to bring normalcy back on the road. This guy blocked the right of way of those in the wrong lane, and instructed them to park their cars in the brushes. They all obliged. He asked the others from the other direction to do likewise. They had no choice but to obey.

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Columnist: Berchie, Kwaku Duah