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A stitch intime saves nine - Ghana in a partial lockdown

Lockdown Streets Accra A street in Accra on day 4 on the lockdown

Mon, 6 Apr 2020 Source: Clement Baffoe

In recent times, I have followed the discussion going on in our airwaves and on social media in Ghana. People have expressed their concerns about the partial lockdown and as a concerned citizen; I would like to add my voice to the national discussion.

To begin with, I must express my anger and frustration at that security personnel who have gone about abusing people instead of protecting lives. In a similar manner, let me say shame on those civilians who are pigheadedly going out for no essential reason. As one military men expressed in a video that has gone viral, ‘they also have families and need not to be on the street to risk their lives.’ And so, as we condemn the barbaric acts of some security personnel, we likewise condemn the acts of those civilians who are putting the whole of society in danger.

About two days ago, I saw a comment from one young Ghanaian lady on YouTube. This lady was questioning the lockdown in Ghana and the brutalities of some of our men and women in uniform. She further quizzed whether Europe and America where the cases are severe, have taken the measures Ghana is taken? As the adage goes, ‘if you see your neighbour’s beard on fire, you put water near yours.’

In fact, a stitch in time saves nine and so, we do not have to record a hundred deaths before we start to take action. In Australia, the police will come after you if you are engaging in anything non-essential on the street. The spot fine is about $ 1600 and failure to pay could land you in prison for six months. President Rodriquez Duterte is considering shooting people on the street if they fail to comply by the directives issued in the Philippines. As I have initially expressed, any reasonable human being will denounce the abuse of a fellow human being.

However, I think her questioning of the lockdown needs to be subjected to the judgement seat of common sense. I think the government did not say nobody can come out; after all our lockdown in Ghana is partial. Essential services such as going to the supermarket for groceries, attending to a medical appointment or the chemist shop are all allowed.

It is true that our Ghanaian economy is largely informal and so some would argue that you prevent people from getting their daily bread through the lockdown. Also, governments elsewhere are giving packages to their citizens but Ghana is not doing same. Here in Australia, starting from the 6th of April, Childcare would be free for parents.

It simple to argue that Ghana cannot lockdown since these packages have not been offered in Ghana. Whereas this argument is cogent, we also have to ask about how many ventilators, beds, hospitals and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) we have in Ghana.

The young lady who compared Ghana to Europe and the US failed to understand that the health system of these ‘powerful’ countries is overstretched at this moment. The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo has pleaded with the less affected States to come to the aid of New York.

If Ghana should record many critical cases, I think it would be hard for our health system to cope. And so, why don’t we all cooperate and nip the spread of the virus in the bud? We are now between the devil and the Red Sea; we are between saving our businesses on the street and protecting our lives. Let us all stay at home and save our lives. I do not in any way undermine the economic and psychological consequences these times would be having on all people especially those who earn their food from the streets of Accra, Tema and Kumasi.

Lastly, I have also watched on social media how our security personnel are turning ‘trotro’ and taxis away. I can speak with experience that most of our security people do not take time to find out the reasons people have to be in the ‘trotro’. We all know that not all our medical personnel have private cars, not everyone might have an identification card at the time of interrogation and above all, civilians could still access essential services.

Though it is hard to interrogate everyone to know why they are out, a whole ‘trotro’ of about fifteen people should not be turned away without knowing what each passenger is out there to do. We need security men and women who would pride common sense over an order, mercy over a written rule. And to my fellow citizens, let us comply since the Coronavirus pandemic is not a joke. If your television is tuned to international channels, then you would perfectly understand what I mean. Let us choose life over everything.

Clement Baffoe SVD

100 Albion Road, 3128

Dorish Maru College

Divine Word Missionaries

Australia Province

Columnist: Clement Baffoe