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10.01.2004 Feature Article

GHANA - We are the cause of our problems.

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Part 1 'Good morning, please I would like to see the Chief Executive' What's your problem? replies the secretary!

This is one of the many arrogant & provocative responses available at most offices in Ghana especially from the government sector.

(I quite remember back in the late 80's a secretarial company called M&J services: 'Goodmorning M&J, how can I help you sir!')

'Well I do not have a problem, I have come to discuss some issues with him, actually he should be aware of my coming',

she continued ' well the CE is not in office yet what is it about? (I took a quick look at my watch, its 10.30)

Its official em....it concerns a TV documentary that we are producing and....she cuts in, did you write any letter? yes I replied. What's the name of your company? Its Sankofa Television. She pauses and briefly checks through some files, 'I am afraid your letter did not come to this office, can you send us a new one?

No! my letter was replied by the CE so it came to this office, I stressed. Do you have a copy? she enquired again.

After moments of 'soft' give and take, a copy of my letter surfaces from her files!

She reads through quickly and remarks, so you came from Holland? Take a seat, she smiles and continues to interview me. How is Holland? hmmm I have a friend who lives there, how long have you been there? So is it a Ghanaian TV or what? Are you going to offer me a job?

Suddenly I seem to be accorded the best VIP treatment she could afford.

My next stop was at the CEPS (Customs & Excise Preventive Service) road barrier near Boankra (Kumasi - Accra rd), I was stopped because my vehicle was carrying a VELD temporal registration number (DP or DV). After inspecting my papers, the officer asked what all those cameras were doing in my vehicle. 'They are for a project we are carrying out in Ghana' I replied. He remarked 'OH so its for television, Boss, please make sure you include our plight in your program !.' He added ' see our pay is not good, we buy our own kerosene for the lanterns, batteries for our lights & radios, we even buy our own stationary, we 'the customs' collect lots of revenue for the government and yet we get only 3-months salary upon retirement. There is no hope or benefit to build or buy a house upon retirement. We are really suffering. Under these circumstances what do you expect us to do, it is not our fault to engage in corrupt activities to make ends meet. Boss, even at this post we do not have a vehicle, if any of us should fall ill at midnight, then it is up to God.

Even if a motorist refuses to stop, we are powerless, I am telling you this secret, there is not even a bullet in the gun that I am holding.

I cut in and remarked, 'but your colleagues at Tema Harbour seems to be ok' hmmmm,

he started, boss, you really need to work through well well. To be posted to KIA (Kotoka Intl. Airport, Tema Harbour, Afgo, Aflao etc., you must pay heavy bribes and have contacts above.

But anyway as I said, tell the government that we the junior staffs are really suffering. Today I need to get some tips to enable us buy a few essentials to enable us perform our duty here.

On that note I handed him a few thousands of cedis and drove off!

My next visit was to a 'waakye' seller at Kaneshie, I patiently stood behind a group of about 10 people(both old & young) waiting for their turns to buy waakye. The waakye seller by-passed the group and asked in an excessive polite manner, 'me pa wo kyeo, me maa wo sen' literally meaning 'please how much do you want to buy' I felt flattered and said 'waakye 2000, meat 1500, gari and talia 500' the seller seemed very disappointed, she stared at me for a moment and asked, is that all? Yes I replied.

Ok, let me finish with these people and I will serve you!

On a wednesday I decided to visit a ministry, the Director responsible to work on a request was still absent, I asked the secretary if anyone could help. Em..., it is Mrs....(..) but today she will be coming in the afternoon or probably not at all. Why? I enquired? She normally attends a prayer camp on wednesdays. The thought of the CEO of Ghana Airways who ordered a pastor from London to save Ghana Airways with prayers came into my head.

For record purposes, I asked the secretary, 'is she going to pray for this ministry?' she seems a bit confused so I repeated my question. 'is she going to pray for this ministry?' oh no, she replied laughing and asked why? I responded, well just for the record.

My visit to Tema Harbour was terrible, you couldn't easily identify registered shipping agents, the area infront of the Longroom was flooded with pseudo agents who were intermediaries for Custom agents.

I was asked to get a harbour pass, there was a queue there, actually a long queue full of crooks who seemed not to have any business to do other than steal.

The agent remarked that we can easily get in provided he paid something to those at the gates. It was full of suprises as I entered the port without any check and no pass!

I cleared my vehicle after going through a rather uncomprehensible bureacray and decayed system that served nothing but bred corruption and lesser attention to customer service. (let me save you the details with the so-called GC-Net, Ascoda, Reentry, Inspection, Reinspection etc. etc.)

As usual at Tema port, parts of my vehicle were stolen and painted with the famous yellow paint. A report indicated that all missing parts were intact upon clearance from the ship. I drove past heavily armed security officials inspecting every vehicle & documents in detail but yet thieves managed to get out of the port with automobile parts on daily basis.

Once again, I was stopped by the police because of my VELD temporal registration vehicle. The officer became more interested in me because I lived outside the country. It was time for big money, he presumed! After inspecting my papers and finding nothing wrong, he started to use some tricks;

1. Sir you are driving DP, (Direct from Port) you should rather have DV.

I replied...but I just cleared the vehilce, its not even 24 hours yet!

2. Ok where is your driving licence?

I handed him my Dutch national & Intl. driving licence.

Do you know you have to report to the police if you intend driving with these papers, he asked.

I don't think so, officer, go straight to the point. I replied

Ok, we need to go to the station.

I am in a hurry and besides I think you really don't know what you are talking of. I remarked.

You see, when you guys come from abroad, you think you know everything, this is Ghana and not your 'over there', the laws here are quite different, anyway I see you are in a hurry so I will let you go.

Thank you officer, as I was about to drive off, his colleague just appealed somberly, can you give us something for 1 bottle? I dashed out some few thousand of cedis.

My next visit was to a popular nite spot, I ordered grilled guinea fowl. I was so hungry that I did not notice there was a foul scent in it. One of my friends drew my attention to it. I quickly called the waitress, she took the fowl away and brought a new one but this time it was not a full piece. I enquired and she responsed that the 'kyinkyinka' man says I have already consumed part so he had subtracted it!.

It took the intervention of the spot owner who apologized before we could get a new full piece.

Later I was briefed by friends that these 'kyinkyinka boys' have a habit of stealing bits of full pieces of client orders until they have a full piece and offer for sale. Sometimes it could take more than 24 hours hence the foul scent.

When we decided to leave, the waitress came with a bill I couldn't reconcile even if I was heavily drunk, I challenged her for a moment. 'Oh sorry that bill was meant for the other table!'. I paid my bill and walked off saving about 400k. I decided never ever to set foot there again.

Ghanaians patronage new goodies but abandon it in no time. Visit Ghana today and visit a new restaurant or night club, on your next visit its bound to be closed or disqualified by friends as descent.

Customer service is absent!

'Cut your coat according to your size' but in Ghana it is 'Cut your coat according to what your friend is wearing' Almost all university girls want to own a golf 4 or something posh!

'Designer foods' like fried rice are almost at every corner breeding gradually diabetes and its likes. Everyone is manufacturing 'pure water'. Waiting for outbreak of cholera.

The lust for luxury has made people to budget far beyond their earnings and yet most of them are able to afford their lust with less difficulty!

A friend who works as a private secretary for an expatriate lives with her Sister. Both have children of school going age attending the same school.

Her sister works at one of the govt. ministries which is about 45 minutes drive from their home.

My friend commutes about 20 minutes from home to work.

Her sister is actually responsible for all shopping and takes the children to school. She goes to work late and comes early!

I asked my friend if she (her sister) never had a problem at work, she replied, well as for govt. work you encounter lesser problems with lateness an absentism etc. but for my place, hmm, you better quit than be late.

But that is not fair, I commented, hmm, she replied, but how much does the govt. pays, they just offer peanuts, actually she is looking for a better work. ....to be contd. Nana Osei Sankofa Television, The Netherlands. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Nana Yaw Osei
Nana Yaw Osei, © 2004

The author has 161 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: NanaYawOsei

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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