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Opinions Mon, 2 Sep 2013

Did corruption really start from Adam?

Nana Abena Afriyie Kwarkye abenaafriyiekwarkye@yahoo.com

There are a variety of issues that bothers my mind once in a while. The more I think about it, the more confusing it gets. Have you ever wondered where God came from? How about the other eight planets being a part of God’s creation or not? Have you ever had doubts in your mind about whether the tree of life and death in the Garden of Eden was really a plant or otherwise? It is not my intention to bad mouth the superiority of God, far from that. But in my wondering mind, I have also been thinking about whether indeed corruption started from the time of Adam? It has become such a domestic phrase, but I’m I the only one who thinks otherwise? Funny enough, the issue of both the giver and receiver of bribe being equally guilty has become a nursery rhyme.

Bribery and Corruption is one of the social setbacks that the world is confronted with and Ghana is no exception. Sometimes you tend to think that corruption has been widely endorsed globally. Most people want to be given a “tip” for a service that they are paid to render. It has become so bad that some people have come to accept it as a part of life. If only you want to go through life the easy way you have to be prepared to pay your way through. Indeed the effect of this social hold up is wide spread, so much so that even the private transport industry is not spared.

Undeniably, the State Transport Corporation popularly known as STC in Ghana lost its monopoly in the transport industry years ago. This gave way to the influx of so many other private operators taking over the market. VIP is one of such companies that easily ring a bell whenever the private transport business is mentioned. Unfortunately they have come under my social microscope and their service is going to be dissected in my laboratory today.

Travelling by air, the luggage of each passenger is weighed and excess baggage is charged more accordingly. Let us zoom in on what happens when you are travelling by road in Ghana. Someone uses his eyes as a weighing scale and determine how much a passenger pays for his luggage. Sometimes they charge outrageously high amount and passengers will have to bargain and plead for minutes before they finally settle at a price. Why should passengers be left at the mercy of these people?

Won’t it be a lighter burden to both passengers and transport operators if a weighing scale is used so that every passenger knows how much is to be paid according to the weight of his luggage? I believe this will stop the fight that goes on usually at the bus terminal. Passengers will not feel cheated so will the transport operators. My headache is that, is there any control mechanism in place or a monitoring system that over sees the operation of private transport operators? Undoubtedly, they belong to unions, but how strong are these unions in serving as checks over the activities of its members?

Once upon a time I was travelling from Kumasi to Accra and I decided to use VIP transport services. As soon as I got there, a gentleman in a VIP branded t-shirt walked to me and said he can sell a single seat ticket to me. That was the seat numbered three (3). I kept wondering how he got the ticket anyway. One thing I observed was that, they approach passengers who are smartly dressed and appear to be transiting to Accra and subsequently travel outside the country. But for me, that didn’t work. Instinctively, I rejected the “deal” though he tried to convince me. He made it clear that I was going to join a long queue. He was going to sell the ticket to me at an increased price. In any case how sure was I that the ticket was not fake? Even in the private man’s business, there is so much corruption.

On another occasion I was travelling back to Accra one Sunday from the garden city; Kumasi. The waiting room was packed with passengers waiting patiently to buy a ticket to travel. One thing I noticed again was the fact that some of the workers sold some of the tickets to some passengers outside the waiting room for extra money. Thankfully I got a ticket to board the bus. That was where all the drama started. More than two people having the same ticket number for the same bus. And so the confusion degenerated to what we call only the fittest can survive... Some of the “fighting” passengers gave up along the line.

Surprisingly, these same customers are glued to this transport service provider even though there are several other options. That is the mystery I cannot seem to uncover. Maybe that will be the subject of discussion for another day.

There have been a lot of sermons on corruption and bribery so many times. I dare say that if you want to see change in our society it should start from you. Let us all be the change that we want in the world. I love Michael Jackson’s song that says “I’m starting with the man in the mirror… I’m asking him to change his ways…. And no message could have been any clearer. If we want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change”.

Columnist: Kwarkye, Nana Abena Afriyie