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Opinions Fri, 4 Jun 2004

Is Ghana Becoming a Lawless Country?

The turn of events in the country deserves serious attention if our beloved Ghana should remain a well organized society. It is with good intentions that all societies enact rules and regulations. These rules translate into the orderly way activities are carried out. Wherever there is lack of order. lives and properties are destroyed.

Ghana has had defined rules and regulations since our independence, some of which have undergone amendments and modifications. Even dating back to the very ancient empires like Songhai and Mali. there existed well cherished traditional rules and regulations. One distinguished beauty about these rules however is that, they were well respected for fear of the gods and traditional sanctions.

In modern times however, statutory rules and regulations are constantly being overlooked even by the supposed law enforcer. Emphasis is most glaringly being placed on the apprehension of serious criminal breaches of the law like armed robbery while the 'petty" disregards for the law are deemed normal.

The problem is whether these "petty" offences do not contribute to the breakdown of law in the society. If it is not important to punish such offences, then why formulate laws about them?

Drivers feel absolutely comfortable to be in control of vehicles that are without side driving mirrors, yet some of our police only stand by our road sides on camouflage duty. But for the recent abatement of armed robbery in the country and the escort of presidential convoys, I would confidently say that our police are totally ineffective. Ghana seems not to have any punishment for traffic jumpers.

More disturbing is the manner in which our traders are carrying out their noble means of existence. It is worrying indeed. Pavements meant as pedestrian walkways are now being turned into market stalls. Cassava and tomatoes are exhibited for sale even on the roads. What an unpleasant development.

Having doubt? Then clear it by visiting the Makola, Tudu and Circle business areas.

Ironically, when one walks along Who is responsible for clearing this mess? AMA or the Police? Are we to destroy already scarce foodstuffs by driving over them on the roads? Who bears the blame in this case too?

Maybe politics accounts for all these problems. The fear of losing votes should they stand up to the law and put these offenders in their right shoes deter the authorities of doing the right thing. Others still argue that the offenders need to make their daily bread. But why not make your daily bread through the right mechanism? Should all traders accept the responsibility of locating in designated markets, would customers who are in need of goods not chase them there?

I have always maintained that we are contributors to our own underdevelopment. We seem not to follow any order. Without order, life is full of unnecessary hassle and, precious time which could have been used for productive activities is wasted.

Ouch! there is even open disregard towards authority by owners of unauthorized buildings at undesignated places, which had been served "remove by order" notices. These buildings are comfortably completed still with some of the notices appearing in the "dangerous red", and yet our authorities see nothing wrong. Taxpayers' hard earned money is in turn used to compensate these owners in the future simply because they were affected by a road construction.

Moreover, it seems some rules are enforced in only Accra and other big cities.

For instance, trotros and taxis still pick passengers in excess at Ho and Keta while it is highly feared in Accra. Does it mean there are no police in these towns? Soon, the policeman rather may be the overloaded passenger. You see, the problem about Ghana is not the nonexistence of the law, but its ineffective enforcement. If noise is made about these, then the proper thing is done for a few days.

I assigned a weighted disproportionate blame to the law enforcers. Nonetheless, we are all to blame for the lawlessness Ghana is degenerating into.

Despite repeated campaigns against indiscipline, the right thing is never done.

We still throw water sachets around indiscriminately, encourage overloading, and trade on pavements.

I challenge our leaders to live up to expectation by enforcing rules and regulations. Above all, we must all help ensure that rules and regulations are obeyed so as to create a more orderly society. Ghana is our homeland and only her children can make it a better home. May our help come from God as we strive to make Ghana a better home.

Columnist: Chronicle