“The economy is hard”. This is the chorus many Ghanaians repeat now a day. The interest rate is high. The inflation rate is galloping. Unemployment is sky rocketing. It is now the survival of the fittest. Mommy and Daddy’s menial job can’t sustain the family any longer. The children hence have to join in in raising token to help themselves and even the entire family. Many of such children took to hawking, stone quarrying, labour work for other people. Their education is now in clear jeopardize and for their health, the least said about it, the better.
Some of the stories are even pathetic. For instance, on 21st Oct, 2013, myjoyonline.com carried a story, “12 year old prostitute arrested in Kumasi; charges GHC 5 per rounds.” These are some of the situations our teenagers found themselves in. The question now is; “Who cares?” Well that is a question for consideration.
Now, am writing on a current ‘business venture’ our teenagers/children engage in just to keep body and soul together. “What business, you asked?” Hmmmmm. I will tell but before that, let me start with this. Have you ever travelled through the Kpeve-Hohoe, Hohoe-Jasikan and Kpeve-Ho road before? If no, don’t worry because what am about to say is about the bad state of our road networks which may even be worst in your area. I mean the ‘graves’ that widely open their mouths and are ready to swallow passengers on our roads at any least chance they get. I hope this is not anything new to you. But the situation is much terrible on the above named roads. Or is it because I haven’t travelled enough on other roads to witness the situation on them as well?
In any case, am not really writing about the nature of the roads but where these ‘graves’ on our roads have now turn to be ‘great businesses’ for many people especially our teenagers/children. You may think the free and compulsory part of the FCUBE have come to send all children into the classrooms, but alas. During school hours, many stay at the roadside filling these ‘graves’ just for token from the drivers. Thanks for their ‘patriotism’ in helping to check the multiplicities of accidents on our ways anyway. But this status quo can’t be maintained at all.
The problem is when the necessary agencies fail in their duties, then, all these are bound to happen. The people find ways out for themselves. It is for more reasons that I titled this article; “TEENAGERS/CHILDREN TAKE OVER THE WORK OF MINISTRY OF ROADS AND HIGHWAYS”.
The Ghana Highways Authority is a department under the Ministry of Roads and Highways with the responsibility of providing and ensuring good road networks for the citizenry. This is best summarized in the department’s mission statement; “To provide a safe and reliable trunks road network at optimal cost………to facilitate socio-economic development in the country”.
The Ministry itself has its vision statement as this; “To provide and maintain an integrated co-effective and sustainable road network responsive to the need of the users, supporting growth and poverty reduction”.
Am not really interested in evaluating the Ministry’s vision as to whether it has lived up to that or not. You can do that judgment for yourself. My great concern is to alert the ministry about the dangers our children/teenagers exposed themselves to in doing their ‘patriotic’ work of filling those ‘grave’. It is so obvious that their lives are on the line. We must not wait till death cases are being recorded before we begin to act. Thank to the Ministry for its ‘Youth In Road Maintenance Module’ initiative but we really deserve much more than what they are doing otherwise these young ones will continue to do their works for them (the Ministry) living them (the children/teenagers) under the mercy of the sun and the moving vehicles, some which have no regards for speed limits even. To me the intervention of the Ministry to hasten steps in developing these roads or even ‘patching’ them is the final resort to solving the problem of ‘children-in-road- patch work’. They must act fast. This is definitely not a ‘tweaa’ matter.
Until the Ministry’s intervention, parents should know that, no matter how hard the economy, allowing those children/teenagers to the road for such works is never a safe decision.
Let us protect them now.
By; Kpe K. Divine
The Writer is the Founding President,
Teen Age Build Ghana.