One thing we like in this country is to pass laws.
Most of the laws we pass are so good that other countries model some of theirs after ours.
We have laws covering almost every aspect of our national life.
However, when it comes to implementation or enforcement of these laws, I often question myself, why the need for rules if we would pay heed to none.
Let me begin with the phenomenon of police barriers.
From what I gather, officers at police barriers are to foremost, ensure the safety of travellers. How?
Check excessive speeding, check that no sleepy head driver continues his trip, and so on.
More so, they should be able to detect and sense the presence of criminals.
But, what do we see? I was on a bus travelling from Tamale to Accra, upon reaching a police barrier, the ‘mate’ of the bus alighted and took to his heels. I wondered.
A few seconds later, he handed over what looked like the Ghanaian currency in the shade of a leaf.
Like a child receiving alms from a good Samaritan, the officer gladly pocketed the money. At that point, he had neglected his core duties as an officer at a police barrier.
As to whether we had guns to our head on the bus, or if our driver was in the right state to continue with the journey, including any other checks he was expected to carry out, mattered no more at that point.
It was more like “give me that piece of paper with value, and you’re good to go!”
More irritatingly, refuse to play ball and they will do all within their power to find fault with you.
Bottom line is that there is a lot of chaos on our roads because law enforcers have abdicated their responsibilities.
Sometimes, on my way to work, I use the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange popularly known as ‘Dubai’.
I spot these officers in white caps. I understand they are members of the Police Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD).
Now, what drivers who ply that road fear the most is to see the right hand of these officers up, demonstrating that they (the drivers) have been hooked.
The drivers begin to murmur, talk undertone, stretch their hand to the bus conductor (‘mates’) for some money.
They quickly and in an unfashionable manner pass on the monies to these officers.
Here again, by law, they are to perform functions that should basically ensure that traffic flows, drivers do not excessively speed and not the exact opposite.
Now, to troubles of the recently held Ayawaso West Wuogon By-Elections.
If anything, a by-election should be the most simple and easy process the electorate should go through to elect a replacement.
Articles have been written and discussions had already on this subject so I will not belabour the point.
An election supposed to go through a simple process, could basically not have voters exercise their franchise in peace; fear gripped most of them.
Indiscipline, abuse of power, no regard for the law, were what we saw by some people.
Some people who were not supposed to be certain people, some people who were supposed to be certain people to maintain law and order but couldn’t, because they were outnumbered, not only in numbers but in capacities; talk of weapons, power, whatever they had.
Meanwhile, there are laws on who qualifies to handle guns and rules governing our electoral process.
And as has become known now, one of the people shot in the heat of the violence might have his leg amputated.
It was supposed to be a simple by-election! Not a bloody by-election!
Carelessness of motorbikers
Let’s now look at our guys who would speedily and easily joke with their lives on the road, our motor riders.
There was an instance where a colleague narrated to me an accident between a motor rider and a car.
As usual, acting all ‘smart,’ the rider ignored the signal of the traffic light, clashed with a car, the impact of which threw him several metres, away from the accident scene.
His knee was practically begging to be off. This is just one of many road traffic crashes involving motor riders.
The funny but not so funny thing is, these riders are aware of the risk they put themselves into when they ride in the manner they do; no helmets, no regard for speed limits and other related regulations.
So why try death? Why give yourself the ‘option’ no one considers?
Now, our very good friends who transport us to and from work.
Drivers have developed the habit of creating illegal routes along carefully constructed roads.
You ask them and they “want to avoid traffic”. Paths, created for pedestrians become the favourite routes of these drivers.
They are less concerned if a pedestrian is using such sidewalks, the pedestrian will rather have to accede to them. No one cares.
Let’s flout the rules. Many have said the attitude of commercial drivers on our roads reflects the behavior of Ghanaians.
They are impatient, always trying to outsmart themselves.
They break the law and stop or pick passengers where they are not supposed to.
They jump the red lights often especially when no one is watching.
They do not mind insulting other road users when given the least opportunity.
They are simply right always. But when they get into trouble they beg like kids.
Why must one deliberately flout basic road traffic rules and end up begging when caught?
Let me end by taking you to a funny incident that happened in January with some Menzgold investors.
A group of Menzgold customers who were calling on the government and relevant agencies to come to their aid decided to embark on a demonstration in Kumasi.
It was one of the many demonstrations to call on the government to help put pressure on Menzgold to pay them their money.
These aggrieved customers defied a police order not to go ahead with their planned protest.
The police said this was because they had not gone through the proper procedure to carry out their demonstration. More clearly, they didn’t inform the police about their demonstration.
A clear disregard for the law.
The Ashanti Regional Police Command went the extra mile to release a statement of caution. Guess what?
These customers, in their numbers, went ahead with the demonstration the day after the police issued the directive. They had no reverence for the law.
They didn’t care. The police descended heavily on them and arrested their leaders.
They were sent to court in the enforcement of the law. Since then we have not heard any such demonstration again.
The instances discussed above are only a few examples of how lawlessness is almost becoming a culture.
Humans by nature may be inclined to be lawless, that is why there are institutions of State in the criminal justice system to deal with such deviant behaviour.
So human beings breaking the law is not exactly strange. What is worrying is when institutions set up and funded by the taxpayer look unconcerned while the very laws are broken, or are even complicit in the commission of the crimes.
The police as always, in such matters, come up for a mention.
Why are they almost every time unable to do the simple things by ensuring punishment for wrongdoers?
My thoughts are that they are not properly equipped with logistics and even training, to be effective in fighting some of the petty crimes described above.
We must be ready as a people to invest in their welfare, training and tools for work.
The interference of so-called influential people in their work must also be addressed.
For example, when an officer makes an arrest and is due to processing the offender for court, politicians, chiefs, and even religious leaders call to interfere with their work.
The police must be bold to resist such interference.
Despite the challenges they may have, the attitude of some police personnel towards crime is surprising.
It is almost like they are in cahoots with offenders. We have heard stories of extortion and so on.
However, it is not the police alone that must work to ensure law enforcement.
The court system or the judiciary must also expedite the trial of cases so that justice is served on time.
It is my view that when we get the police to take their mandate more seriously, many of the lawlessness we see around; on the roads and other places will drastically reduce.
By: Bervelyn Longdon