Let’s Stop This! – By Kwame Gyan
When I used to work out of the capital some ‘youth leader’ accused the company I worked for that we had intentionally invited police to mount road blocks to harass them. What got this dude’s temperature up was when the police stopped a taxi for carrying a lot more people than the 5 mandated by law. The vehicle had 2 people in the front (minus the driver), 6 at the backseat, and 3 in the boot. Yes, the boot. This ‘youth leader’ at a meeting had the effrontery and with his chest out to state emphatically that “we all know that in Ghana, the Police does not arrest anyone for overloading when there is a funeral or football match”.
“Like seriously?” – to borrow an expression I am beginning to detest among urban young people.
That is just the way most of us think, folks, and sadly too I must add. We indulge ourselves in a whole lot of nonsense and we convince ourselves that it is cool. This stinky canker is so widespread that the person who questions it tends to seem the awkward one; the unusual one; the wrong one.
I received some bashing on Facebook when I complained about the reckless behavior of some folks on the streets; disregarding traffic regulations and endangering the lives of other road users. I deserved the bashing because I picked on a group of people and it seemed as though they are the only guilty ones when it comes to their road usage behavior and taking laws in their own hands. The thing is, this canker has spread so wide and so deep that it has almost become accepted by some of us.
Our folks in major cities especially in Accra and Kumasi feel because the streets are built in front of their homes then they own them. What that means is that if there is a naming ceremony or what we call an ‘outdooring’ in our local parlance or a funeral, then these roads are blocked and tend to be event grounds. These folks do not give a hoot that as a result of their road block traffic may have to be diverted hundreds of meters ahead.
We do also have a penchant for abusing sirens in this country. Culprits have ranged from the police themselves through government officials, bank bullion vans to funeral vans. Why do the police think that because they are police they can just turn on the siren and expect everyone else to ‘scatter’? You are probably saying that may be they are pursuing criminals or going to mount roadblocks elsewhere. Yes, possibly so. But what about those who are obviously not attending to any official duty? How did I know? Same way you thought you knew they were on duty.
I once had to give way to a bullion van with siren on full blast. When the van drove past me I noticed there was a woman with her handbag on her lap riding with a driver. Just so you did not know, bullion vans almost always have an armed policeman on board. The woman I saw was no policewoman and her handbag was not carrying money meant for a vault anywhere. Is it the case that the rest of us in traffic simply love the ‘go slow’ and want to remain on the streets until ‘thy kingdom come’ or it is just our punishment for being law abiding?
I have over the past few weeks also witnessed Muslim youth on motorbikes blocking roads and turning themselves into traffic wardens by stopping all on-coming traffic so a convoy of other cyclist and vehicles will drive through to the cemetery. Their actions are often so reckless and dangerous that much as I get so visibly upset with them, I also fear for their own lives. Seriously why will you want to endanger your own life as you see someone off to the other world? I do know a lot of Muslim folks who do not appreciate such actions so why does it still persist?
Why will a cameraman risk his life over 200 cedis or less by sticking more than half his body out of a car to film a convoy of wedding or funeral vehicles? Do newly-weds ever sit back and watch videos of how their rented wedding car drove through town to the chapel? Or why do families invest thousands of cedis throwing big funerals with a myriad of safety hazards thrown not just in the way of the mourners, but the public who have no idea who is been mourned.
Folks, there is nothing I have said here that you did not know before. So why do we look on while the few bad nuts recreate the rules for us, endangering our lives in the process? I know we are a people who will stay in line and behave like good boys and girls once we see an authority standing before us. But are we not too grown to continue wee-weeing on ourselves and in our beds merely because Maame and Paapa are not around?
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