The presence of the police is an insurance against crime in any vicinity. At least that is the conventional wisdom.
Unfortunately in Ghana and other developing societies, the police presence on our roads, is most often than not, a nuisance.
A few dedicated police officers do honest jobs on our roads by directing road users to obey traffic regulations and for drivers to generally drive safely.
Unfortunately, the love for money tend to drive a number of them to be more interested in extorting money from drivers than getting them to obey simple road regulations.
Police men and women stopping drivers is a common sight on our roads. But when the driver is at the steering wheel of a truck loaded with goods, the interest of our men and women in black is unusually heightened.
It is a common sight on our roads for an onlooker to observe the police engaging truck drivers for long spells. It is widely believed that such truck drivers part with money at every check-point.
On Tuesday, Parliament was told of how onion truck drivers commuting from Paga and Kulungugu, both border towns in the Upper East Region to the south, have money extorted from them at every point in the over 50 check-points to Central Kumasi before heading south to Accra, Takoradi or Cape Coast.
Dr. Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, Member of Parliament for Binduri told an animated House of Parliament on Tuesday that as much as GHc15,000 is extorted by the police from onion truck drivers from the two destinations every single day. He said the situation worsens the plight of farmers who produce these onions because invariably, the buyers of these produce remove the cost of tipping the police from the total payment to poor farmers in the north.
The MP was not done, he told his colleagues in the House that the same treatment is meted out to truck drivers transporting cattle to the north every day and asked the House to do something about this terrible situation.
The Ashantis have a very interesting proverb. Loosely translated, it says when the owners of a household calls for the peeling off of the feathers of the tortoise, the tortoise turns to the fowl and invites it to listen to the request.
The House may debate the issue and make recommendations. Invariably, it is the Police Administration which has the mandate to address the issue. Without mincing words, we would like to invite the new Inspector General of Police to institute measures to end the menace.
Extortion on our roads is becoming unbecoming. We invite Mr. David Asante-Apeatu to bring his influence to bear on the situation.
A fine gentleman, Mr. Asante-Apeatu has to issue the necessary directives and see to the implementation of the command necessary to end the extortion on our roads.
It is not the very best that police officers virtually demand bribes on our roads. But that has been the practice from time immemorial. The time has come to do something drastic to discourage the men in black uniform from this illicit trade.
We are told that in some cases, policemen heading for the beat on our roads use the potential income from extortion as insurance to put off honouring their financial obligations.
Whatever it is, it is not the very best of scenarios that our men and women use the uniform to extort money from the poor and vulnerable.
The new Inspector General of Police has a duty to put his best foot forward!