Opinion | Feb 21, 2019

Verbal War With A Corrupt Traffic Police Officer In Ghana

Corruption Within The Ghana Police Force Must Come To An End

Ghana has become a fertile ground plagued with bribe-taking and corruption decades ago but at the moment, the situation has overflowed its banks. Corruption by politicians, law enforcement officers, judges, and parliamentarians, have drastically affected Ghana's economic infrastructure beyond remedy.

Thousands of people are unemployed in Ghana not because they are not qualified for the post but because of a bribe, they couldn't provide to recruiters or employers. The police force demands a bribe before recruit and the Ghana National Fire Service often demands a bribe before being a recruit.

They call it the greasing of the palm, giving someone money in exchange for favour; or to bribe someone, is now part of Ghana's custom before one can help you or fix you at the right position.

A study, conducted in West Africa, indicates how corrupt Ghana is. In 2010, Ghana began to transfer government officials to a new wage scheme. The reform was taken into consideration because of the police. The increment was assumed that this will lead to the fact that they will stop extorting money from drivers on the roads.

However, no matter how clean you make a pig, they will always go back to mud because it's one of their favorites spots. Ghana police can't ignore the temptation of taking bribes from drivers. A police officer can take money from a driver and ignore how dangerous a vehicle is to kill passengers.

Does it make sense for the police to stand at one particular place from Monday to Friday controlling the same commercial drivers they have previously controlled? This is part of my experience when I used to be a Tro-Tro driver plying the routes of Cape Coast University campus and the Kotokuraba station.

This particular policeman among other colleagues stands under the coconut trees at Ola, a suburb of Cape Coast, under the pretense of checking vehicle papers while they take money from us. Sometimes, the drivers will humbly speak to them to exercise patience till they come back.

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I know it's not right but there is no way I could stop them, until one day on my way to Accra, the same policeman stopped me somewhere at Koramantse for overspeeding. I told him frankly, "You are not going to get a penny from me. You have taken enough money from me when you used to stand under the coconut trees at Ola."

What he wasn't expecting to hear from me provokes him and he decides to teach me a lesson, booking my case to appear in court. In the heat of the argument, a man driving to Accra, who knows me stops to find out the source of the problem. The policeman told him exactly what I said.

The Good Samaritan who wants to settle the case amicable left with the policeman, leaving me alone but I could hear whatever they were saying. I guess, the Good Samaritan had wanted to bribe the policeman to secure my freedom because I heard him saying with an angry loud voice "Master, I am not going to take this money from you because this man is very dangerous," referring to me.

Indeed, he didn't take the money and three months after the incidence, I appeared at the Cape Coast magistrate court and I was fined a sum of 10,000 old Ghana cedis. As a writer, most of my articles are based on personal experience. This is one of them about how corrupt the Ghana police is.

A survey of truckers using the roads of Ghana and neighbouring Burkina Faso was conducted. Drivers whose documents in order were asked to record how often they were stopped and how much money they had to give as a bribe to police and customs officers during a trip.

Two economists analyzed the corruption in Ghana and revealed that Ghana police became more corrupt after the salary increase both in absolute terms and in comparison with the police of Burkina Faso and the Ghanaian customs officers.

The Ghana police increased the number of checkpoints on the roads and began to detain trucks for unreasonable reasons for a longer time. The average driver was stopped about 16 times while driving through Ghana and Burkina Faso, extorting more money.

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There is no Ghanaian leader who has a magic wand to convince Ghanaians that he could fight corruption and no matter how salaries are increased in Ghana, the police, judges, and politicians will always take a bribe.

Perhaps a combination of higher wages, efficient political leadership, and harsh punishment could stop corruption. This method worked in Singapore but can it work in Ghana, a country that has never jailed a corrupt official before?

A political scientist from the University of Ghana explained this in the following way: "Although the sea is big, it continues to receive rain."

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