Child beggers and the risks of accidents; Are the police sleeping on their watch?

Child Beggers2 Some young beggars busy plying their trade

Mon, 11 Nov 2019 Source: George Ernest Asare

My car started jerking at the El Wak Stadium traffic light intersection which was unusual.

That was in the morning rush-hour when I was on my way to the office and in vehicular traffic off the El Wak Stadium-37 Military Hospital dual carriage way.

Before then, I had passed by a gentleman, who was sweating profusely as he struggled to push his 2018 black Toyota Camry saloon car that had blocked the road around the Burma Camp intersection.

He had an engine fault that had caused his car to get stuck in the middle of the road.

While pushing it, he was also frantically talking to someone on the phone as other motorists meandered past, unmindful of the trauma he was enduring.

He might have been hinting his mechanic about the breakdown of his vehicle; as I got close to him, I had wanted to stop and help, but the loud touting of horns behind me rather overpowered the good Samaritan in me, forcing me to drive on against my conscience.

A few minutes after passing by the man in distress, my car started to jerk and being Catholic, I sought my rosary to recite the Hail Mary for spiritual intervention to steer the car to the office before the worst happened.

Dual carriageway

The traffic light at the 37 Military Hospital-Dzowulu road was green as I was getting closer, but immediately I indicated to turn left to hit the main Accra -Jubilee House dual carriageway, the amber light appeared and seconds later, the red light, forcing vehicles to stop .

I stopped behind two vehicles ahead of me. Moments afterwards, six children - four girls and two boys, aged between seven and nine-dashed to the vehicles to beg for alms.

The children, who have made the spot their abode, have been begging for alms since January 2014.

The children are not only familiar at the spot, but they also resemble one another, in complexion, structure and height.

They use gestures to communicate to their benefactors because they can neither communicate in English or any of our local dialects.

The jerking of my car intensified and affected its smooth movement so it occupied my attention, making me lose track of events at the intersection.

The lights turned green, but moments afterwards, I heard loud screeches and screams.

The screeches were from the two vehicles ahead of me. They had stopped suddenly to avoid hitting three of the beggars, who had crossed suddenly when the vehicles started moving and the screams were from pedestrians witnessing the imminent accident.

To avoid hitting the vehicle ahead, I stepped on the brake pedal with all the force I could muster, bringing my car to a sudden stop and compelling the vehicles behind me to stop abruptly.

Moments afterwards, the beggars dashed off to their parents, who were by then sprinting to the scene.

Within some seconds, the otherwise serene atmosphere had turned chaotic, thus drawing the attention of the police, who were a few distance away from the scene, closer to maintain law and order.

Police personnel

Because the area is a security zone, police personnel are always on stand by. Ironically, they had not realised the danger such children posed to motorists and pedestrians over the years on that stretch.

Instead of being proactive by preventing the parents of the children begging from releasing them onto the busy road to harass motorists, the police have always behaved like ostriches by turning a blind eye.

Had the unexpected happened and the children been run over, the trauma of rushing them to hospital, the cost of treatment, as well as the time spent during treatment would have been unbearable for all.

Other children also beg for alms around the Nima Police Station, the Catholic Cathedral to the Psychiatric Hospital intersection, the Cedi House intersection, as well as the National Theatre intersection and other parts of the metropolis, where police presence is always visible.

Road Traffic Regulations

Section 117 (1) of the 2012 Road Traffic Regulation stipulates that “ A person shall not sell, display, offer for sale or deliver pursuant to a sale goods within an intersection or along a road”.

It adds, “A person who contravenes commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than fifty penalty units, or to a term of imprisonment of not more than three months or both”,

Section 154 (8) also stipulates that “a pedestrian on a road shall not engage in a conduct that is likely to constitute a source of danger to the pedestrian or to other traffic which is, or may be on the road”.

Those who contravene that “commit an offence and are liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than five penalty units, or to a term of imprisonment of not more than seven days or both”

If the police are proactive, the incident I witnessed at the 37 Military Hospital- Dzowulu intersection could have been prevented.

Sadly however, our police are not proactive enough and are rather sleeping on duty.

With the inaction of the police, these children who should have been enjoying free education will continue to be on the streets, soon grow into unemployed adults and the consequences may be unbearable for all, including the police mandated to take them off the streets.

Columnist: George Ernest Asare