President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed grave concern about the gory accidents that claimed nearly 80 lives in the Bono East and Central regions Friday and called for the speedy implementation of the recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee, tasked to look at road accidents in the country.
After praying for the souls of those who lost their lives during the accidents, he disclosed that the committee, which included the Ministers of the Interior, Roads and Highways and Transport with the task to examine and propose measures to deal with the increased state of road accidents in the country, had concluded its work and made recommendations for consideration by the police.
The occasion was the 2018 end-of-year socialisation of the West Africa Security Services Association (WASSA) of the Ghana Police Service at the Police Headquarters in Accra.
The President said the frequent accidents on the nation’s highways, which claimed lives and limbs, must be halted.
President Akufo-Addo said currently, though the police were suffering from a low public image, it was encouraging how the leadership was working assiduously towards reversing the trend and cited two recent instances to support what he said.
The first, he said, was the shocking video of a trotro driver and his mate assaulting a police officer at Kasoa; the two were quickly arrested and put before court and remanded.
The second was that, some police officers who assaulted three Ghanaian Times reporters had been interdicted for which he commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
The President said it was important for the growth of society that justice was done to all manner of persons without fear or favour, affection or ill will and that it would be in everybody’s interest that the Police Service maintained neutrality and professionalism as guaranteed under the constitution.
He revisited the menace of political vigilantism and reiterated his determination to end the acts, pointing out that crime was crime and should be treated as such by the law enforcement agencies, irrespective of who was involved.
President Akufo-Addo announced that he had tasked the Attorney-General to prepare and put before Parliament, as soon as possible, specific legislation to deal with the phenomenon and provide appropriate sanctions.
He asked for the support of the police in the passage of the law and in its enforcement.
He assured the Police Service that the government, for its part, would assist it to provide the services that the public deserved, and to that end his administration was to construct a new national detective training academy at Kenyase Number One in the Ahafo Region, akin to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy of the USA.
The President said 1,502 senior police officers and more than 18,000 junior officers had been promoted since he took office.
He said the era where officers stayed in the service without being promoted after four years was over, adding that the practice would be discontinued in accordance with the Ghana Police Regulations to enhance the conditions of personnel and encourage them to be more professional in their duties.
Additionally, President Akufo-Addo said work on 320 housing units for officers at the Police Training Academy was ongoing, while 4,000 police officers were being recruited with 2,000 already under training.
He added that aside from the 320 vehicles that had been supplied to the police, 273 more would be delivered soon, while three helicopters would be procured for which some officers were undergoing training to pilot them.
He also touched on vacation leave for the police and pointed out that it was a right and not a privilege, for which reason all officers and men should be allowed to go on leave.
“If the exigencies would not allow, it should be rescheduled,” the President said.
The Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, for his part, assured the officers and men that the government would continue to provide equipment and other resources to the police and offer them the needed encouragement as well.
He urged the police officers to remain professional and fair in their dealings.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr David Asante-Apeatu, described 2018 as a challenging year. However, he said everything that occurred was within the operational capabilities of the police.
He said the emergence of social media and a better-informed population had given an added strength to crime reporting and reiterated that the crime rate in 2018 was within reasonable levels although he did not provide any statistics.
Mr Asante-Apeatu mentioned the misconduct of some police personnel on international mission which, he noted, dented the image of the service internationally, and said they were dealt with according to United Nations rules and regulations and were currently going through police administrative processes to bring finality to the issue.