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16.07.2015 Feature Article

The Collapse Of The Bunso Canopy Walkway: The Cost Of Whitewash And Window Dressing

The Collapse Of The Bunso Canopy Walkway: The Cost Of Whitewash And Window Dressing
LISTEN JUL 16, 2015

The collapse of the Bunso Canopy Walkway in the East Akyem Municipality of the Eastern Region has been described by the Chief Executive of the facility as “an accident.” Quite predictably, isn’t it? I would have been “excited and a little perplexed” if he had said it was due to bad management. That would have been a revolutionary act in a society where such admissions are as rare as good management, wouldn’t it?

If I should muster courage and say it was due to bad management, I would be asked to adduce evidence to that effect. I don’t have the evidence, so I choose not to say that. But I believe I have the right to believe him or be distrustful of him. And I choose not to trust him! Like the Eastern Regional Minister, AntwiBosiako,theexplanation is unsatisfactory. Perhaps if we get lucky enough to know the results of the audit to be conducted,we will know the truth.

But if we relied on the many accidents that plague us daily, from the collapse of buildings to bridges, it should be easy for us to surmise that this accident could have been prevented.

The root cause of our tragedies as a nation is the tendency to be in denial about negative things. And if denial fails,we whitewash. For whatever reason,children are raised to deny the obvious and shield wrong-doers.

Typically,the Ghanaian child is taught to lie,even in situations where a lie is pointless. For example if children are told not to eat in a neighbour’s house,the real reason is notusuallygiven. But the children are encouraged to say everything similar to “I am not hungry,” even if they look unmistakably hungry. How about visibly sick persons telling everybody they’re fine? And healthy persons feigning sickness so as to stay away from work?

Last year government officials were in denial of an imminent economic crisis until the evidence was too obvious to deny. By then the economy was comatose. The IMF has invited.

Shielding wrong does is also taught,sometimes unwittingly, sometimes brazenly. Now exposing wrong doers seems more wrong than the actual commission of the crime. So people would rather shield wrong doers so that everyone suffers the resultant negative consequences.

Last year, an award winning journalist filed a report exposing the structural defects in the walkway at the Kakum National Park. He literally put his head on the chopping board. He was condemned in no uncertain terms. The vitriol spewed on him could have drowned the average journalist, but the said journalist is known for his stout, impervious heart.

Critics claiming to have a sense of fairness said he should have been discreet with the information; that going public with the information was a sign of indiscretion, and had the potential of killing Ghana’s tourism industry.

The emptiness in this argument is clear. Tourists would rather choose a place where authorities are put on their toes to keep safety standards rather than places where sites are allowed to deteriorate and become death traps.

Evidently, the fear of public shame gets people to clean up their mess faster than secret appeals and negotiation. Take government and trade unions as an example. Trade unionists as a rule, go on strike or publicly threaten to do so before their concerns are addressed.

It is difficult to understand how a people who fear public disgrace allow problems to fester on and on when they are alerted to them in private. In indeed, it is neither discreet nor helpful to be silent on national interest. Such an action amounts to condoning the wrong being perpetuated on the people. Everybody must feel that they ought to do their bit if not they stand exposed.

Emmanuel Asakinaba
Emmanuel Asakinaba, © 2015

The author has 42 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: EmmanuelAsakinaba

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