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16.04.2018 Feature Article

Criminal Negligence, The Nation's Most Excruciating Dilemma

Negligence is defined as the failure to exercise a standard of care that a reasonable person would have (Wiktionary).

One of the major problems facing mother Ghana is negligence, usually overlooked but a cankerworm to growth and development. The "I don't care" attitude in Ghana is what whet my appetite to this write up.

Paraphrasing Daniel Webster," the danger to our country may not come from a foreign enemy. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence. They may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct.

Often times,we feel the impact of negligence only when a great pain has been caused. But the hard truth is, many deaths were avoidable.

The way our institutions operate is not something we can be sure of safety and security from the road and safety department to the police force. It is not uncommon to see a heap of sand or a broken car left in a curve side of the road when travelling. The police who are to patrol and make reports of such incidence only stand at "one corner, one side", waiting for their 1 or 2 cedis without giving any prior info of what happens on the road. On 30th March, 2018, i was travelling from Bekwai to Asankrangwa and to my dismay, the driver had to join wires and used a screw driver as a key to ignite the engine. But the pertinent question is, who checks them? It is not news to see cars with flat or damage tryes plying on the road. Often times, drivers gamble with the safety of the passengers. It's also amazing how many people put the wrong fuel in their cars. There are also too many drivers playing the "I can go far a bit further" game when their petrol gauge is hovering perilously near empty.

But in a shithole country, you can buy lives for just 1 cedis and 2 cedis. It's a shame. In places like Cote divoire, when a vehicle carrying a sand breaks down, the driver has to report to the nearest mass media to make an announcement for people to be careful when traveling that road. It's reasonable to do so because the use of roads are "public rights" and not a private use that an individual can block it to the detriment of the masses. Even at parking lots and schools by roadside, drivers are seen speeding. Must we lose the most precious lives before doing the right thing? It is very annoying for a driver to be driving whilst making long calls and replying to WhatsApp messages. Due to inactions or a lack of oversight, a preventable accident was caused.

Also, negligence on the side of government. Our leaders in the name of business and their own selfish interest award contracts such as roads, hospitals, schools, etc to contractors who end up doing shoddy work. And in the next two years, there will be potholes on the road, and cracks on the buildings. Yet when the building eventually collapse or an accident occur on that same road, our leaders go to display wealth ostentatiously -making huge donations, this time a community is left to suffer from lack of potable water. It's a shame.

At the hospitals and clinics, the way some care attendants operates is not something we can call nursing. A nurse in a nursing home who forgets to feed a patient who needs help to eat, causing the patient starve to death. And even the manner in which they shout and receive patients is appalling. I don't blame them, the system forced them. Majority of the nurses don't have a "nursing heart".

Moreover, negligence at the individual level. A barber in the discharge of his duties had to receive a call whilst a customer sit and wait for him. After delaying and wasting the customer's time, he came back and was contemplating the actual blade he was using on the guy. He places the blade anyhow instead of keeping used ones in a different box. People's negligence have brought diseases to so many innocent people, and also contributed to many preventable deaths.

As i was walking through the estate road at Bibiani, I observed a woman carrying an open food all the way from her house, crossed a road just to tell the food seller that she doesn't like the meat the seller gave her. Out of negligence, the seller collected the food and poured the meat back inside the soup. My concern is, what if the woman had poisoned the food at home? But the hungry buyers kept mute and were busy buying the food. And is it not negligence that makes the seller thinks the buyer or customer can put his/her hand into whatever they are selling and pick whatever they want to buy?

Charity they say, begins at home. The chords between parent's and children is broken and the socialization role of teachers on students is fading away because of modern training which has put fears in teachers to spank a deviant and recalcitrant student. A parent who sits in a beer bar to drink to stupor and leave's their 3 or 4 year child to walk haphazardly should tell you that we are the main causative agents to the very thing we cry over.

To identify a problem without giving solutions is like watching a blind man fall into a pit as you stand and shout, there is a pit in front. I therefore recommend the following;

Business men and women owe's their customers and clients reasonable care. When customers enters your place of business, it's your responsibility to give them a safe environment and also have records of your activities to prove you are doing business with reasonable care.

Government should employ more people in the field of environment and business to check the daily routine of their activities. A body should be set up by government to check the day to day activities of drivers, barbers, food vendors, and all those in the field of business. Negligence should be given serious attention like corruption. These two acts are like twins of the same destiny. Their destiny is that, both are injurious to the progress of the human race.

There should be a team set up by government to do "driver's auditing" on periodic intervals, probably, 3 to 4 months to check regular servicing of cars and proper maintenance, faulty batteries, tyres, fuel management and other safety precautions. Any driver whose car fall short of the set standard should not be allowed to run on the road.

Massive education on radio and televisions to sensitize and conscientize the people-- inculcating in them, the philosophy of awareness and healthy lifestyles. Awareness of one's environment is very crucial. If you find a problem, fix it immediately. It's a sign of reasonable care. Delaying or ignoring the problem is negligence.

At the heart of the many problems facing Ghana is negligence. Road accidents, floods, collapse of buildings, mismanagement of resources, corruption, if well handled will promote development. I think that is all what the "better Ghana Agenda is about".

Because of negligence, we lost the most precious lives. Be your brother's keeper, better safe than sorry.

Thank You!
Ayerakwa Prince
A developer,
Environmental professional.
[email protected]

Prince Ayerakwa
Prince Ayerakwa, © 2018

This author has authored 21 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: AyerakwaPrince

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