LAW ENFORCEMENT OR BEGGING?
There seems to be a trend of law enforcement in Ghana, which has been so for several years and perhaps, forever remain. Our law enforcement is rather a ground for begging! A platform for soliciting for alms! I am sad to admit this but the fact remains; our law enforcement agencies are professional beggars!
One cedi! One cedi! One cedi! They actually call it Vodafone! For the police in Ghana, this issue is quite disturbing! Many of us have complained over the years about the humiliating or disgraceful manner in which they conduct their affairs! They know no bounds, and have no shame! Irrespective of the personality from whom they are soliciting for alms, it can be a disgraceful sight to behold! Quite disturbingly, a religious literature usually handed out by the Jehovah's witnesses on evangelism; in the form of the 'Awake' or 'Watch Tower' is their collection bowl. They normally give out this literature to offending drivers, who in turn, put in their bribes! At the various checkpoints, that is the norm! When it comes to commercial vehicles, drivers are at their mercy! Whether it is sachet water, plantain, tomatoes, oranges, charcoal, firewood, beverages distribution vehicles respectively, our gallant police want it all! All they ever seem to be interested in is extortion!
With the introduction of the Single Spine Salary Structure, Ghanaians all heaved a huge sigh of relief, especially when it began with our law enforcement agencies! We thought the corrupt days were over! That was a fallacy!
At our ports and harbours, the situation is worse! Most of us have our stories to tell! A lot of potential investors have untold stories to share! That is the story of the exploitation, bribery and corruption, and theft at our harbours, especially the Tema harbor! It is all about exploitation! The monies being exchanged at our harbours is a retardant to development! People are paying all sorts of monies as duties! These monies in the end, fail to make their way into government coffers! Most local businesses, usually in the areas of imports and exports, are running at a loss each day, due to this problem! People are forced to hand over their profits, even before they actually make those profits! How then do our businesses survive? How then do we expect investors to come in? Our harbours are rotting with thieves, dressed in law enforcement clothes! Most people have had to abandon their goods in the process of clearing, due to the huge sums demanded as duty and bribes! The monies are sometimes more than the actual value of the goods! Most potential investors have had to abort their missions due to the stinking situation at our harbours! Criminals are operating freely in Ghana today, simply because they can afford to bribe their way into the country! All forms of illicit goods are being released unto our local markets due to the activities of these unscrupulous custom officials!
At the airport, this trend exists! It is a normal occurrence for people to bribe their way into the departure halls when they are not travelling! That is an occurrence at the Kotoka International Airport, departure entrance! Our immigration officers are no saints either!
Do we really have laws in Ghana? By law enforcement, I am not referring to the so-called or perhaps, imposters we often encounter. I am actually talking about honest people! Incorruptible people! People who would stand for the truth! People who would fight to uphold the rule of law in Ghana! That is what we need! I am tired of seeing the professional beggars on our streets, parading or perhaps masquerading themselves in various law enforcement uniforms! I am tired of seeing professional beggars or thieves at our harbours, who are only interested in looting! Our custom officers like to play God!
Ghana deserves better! This country is making her marks internationally! Rather sadly however, she is making her marks for the wrong reasons! A lot of foreign investors have bitter stories to tell of this nation! The story of corruption! Ghana deserves a better reputation! Law enforcement is a noble profession; consequently, our agents ought to act right! Instead of begging, they ought to do their true job; the job that the nation pays them for! The job that our taxes are paying them for! They are not tax-collectors, and so, ought to leave that to the real professionals! They are no beggars, and so, ought to leave that to the actual beggars! At least, they should not create an undue competition for the real beggars! They should leave the begging to the beggars! They should leave the looting to the thieves! Who do we seek refuge from, when our law enforcement agents are themselves guilty? Or must we now go around effecting a citizen's arrest on offending law enforcement agents? If there are indeed laws in Ghana, they need to be re-enforced now!
Anna Esi Hanson (firstname.lastname@example.org), Takoradi.