“Pity City; Accra” by Abubakar Ibrahim

Accra has become a messy capital to live in. It won’t be a bad idea to have a sanity meter at the entrance of most offices to measure the soundness levels of workers before they sit behind their desk in the morning.

Driving to work or home is a hard job if you are in the capital. You have to pray hard no trotro or taxi driver rudely crisscrosses your path without asking permission. For those on foot, you must be careful walking in certain areas of the city as you risk someone pouring urine or fly packaged human waste in your face while you walk behind his or her window. Sadly, it has become fashionable lately how motorists/passengers bizarrely take a piss in the middle of the road, just behind or beside the car, with everyone watching!

You must be an idiot to tell anyone the right thing to do. Rubbish is dumped anywhere and left to take care of itself that is if the open gutters are pardoned. People encroach upon properties like it is no one’s business. Leave your property unattended to for a few days and in no time, you either meet a kiosk or a vendor selling there. What on earth is Accra coming to?

I am one of those who detest military rule, but sadly it seems in Ghana we don’t value democracy and we expect to be whipped in line to do the right thing. Some people confuse democracy with everybody doing as they please in our part of the world. The same rule of law that is supposed to keep us from snapping at each other is brazenly overlooked because some people want to have their way, even if it means selling in the middle of the highway.

My zongo people will perceive me as ‘book long’ when I criticize their unrestrained abuse of public roads when they close them to traffic during funerals, weddings, out-doorings and anything they deem fit to organize. Don’t ask me if they have a permit from the police to do so because I know most don’t. There have been several instances where I have personally asked organizers of events in zongos who had no clue they were supposed to apply for one before their event.

I have been part of Muslim motorcades on many occasions to the cemetery in Accra, Kumasi and other parts of the country where a departed Muslim can’t stand traffic. Boys on motorcycles of different shapes and engine capacities gravely ride several meters ahead to block other road users, to make way for the funeral entourage.

To be safe as a motorist, you must comply for the ten minutes or more the funeral train will take to pass; else you will be roughed up if you prove stubborn. My fear has always been how new motorist cope with the rough riding and driving of my brothers. This has been going on for a long time thus, I won’t answer to questions about the Police Service or the Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) enforcing order on our roads.

Talk of the police reminds me of how some of our men in uniform drive around in the capital with their emergency lights flashing like there is no tomorrow. Most times you find them flagging other road users to stop while they speed past. It is becoming a norm, as Ghanaian police just can’t stand traffic irrespective of time of day. Some of them don’t care about the motorists with medical conditions triggered by their heedless flashing of their red and blue lights at night. It is a shame we are brought up to think the police are always right.

Lately, I get upset when I see a detour in Accra created by inhabitants for their ease especially in market areas like in Accra central, Mallam Atta, Nima, and Madina. At the Madina market, for instance, it is a daily occurrence to see who is flexing their muscle more: the market women, the taxi drivers, the truck pushers or the kayayei who want a fair place to sit to get customers. When you see a double lane forcibly adapted to the one-way lane by the aforementioned interest parties, it tells you city authorities are taking everyone for granted.

To begin with, there are lots of nasty unplanned extensions being made along these roads with residential houses pulled down to make way for shops. I don’t have qualms about houses making way for shops, but the arrogance with which selfish developers looking to make most of their the land inconvenience everyone, really gets to me. Nothing matters, not even the construction materials that obstruct traffic for several days.

It makes you wonder if any authority approved for constructions to start in the first place. The new shops create more vehicular and human traffic. To think that these shops were built with no parking spaces in front of them makes the situation dreadful. Obviously, the shops attract buyers with cars, who can’t get places to park. Shop owners themselves are uncomfortable parking in front of their shops for fear their wares won’t be visible enough.

Why do we always watch things get out of hand in this country before we act? Does it have to take someone losing his/her life or property before some sanity is restored in the capital and indeed everywhere else in the country? There have been several unfortunate incidents of flood and fire where the emergency services could only stand and stare at a distance because of lack of access routes to the sites.

The memories of Melcom and many other buildings collapsing right under our noses in Accra did little to alert us. The June 3, 2015, flood and fire was just another story. The lives of the innocent counts for nothing to those in authority in Ghana, thus their lack of action or the conscience to quit the job they have been unable to do all this while.

By Abubakar Ibrahimtro-tro_transportation

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