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04.03.2006 General News

AK47 on ‘trotro’

By The Mirror

The short supply of vehicles to the Ghana Police Service is posing danger to the public as gun-wielding officers on duty around the country share commercial vehicles such as taxi's and trotro (buses and vans) with commuters.

Most of the junior police officers who perform guard duties at the residences of senior public officers, banks and other sensitive state institutions do not owe vehicles.

They also do not have access to the limited police vehicles in the system and are therefore compelled to share commercial vehicles with members of the public to and from their duty posts.

With the loaded AK47 assault riffles and other weapons on their hands or strapped onto their bodies, the officers struggle with commuters for their seats on commercial/ passenger vehicles. The front seat is usually their favorite.

'Seriously, that is not an ideal situation. Although the men are well trained to handle weapons safely it may be dangerous for them to board commercial vehicles with weapons,' the Police Public Affairs Director, DSP D.S Eklu, conceded.

He said the obvious dangers involved in the situation where officers board commercial vehicles with guns is that 'they could be attacked and the weapons taken away from them. The guns could also go off and cause harms to persons or even death'.

DSP Eklu said AK47 assault rifles are not weapons that should be handled in public, 'especially where there are children around.

'Though the public may find the guns intimidating, I can assure them that stringent measures are taken to ensure that the weapons that the men handle are secure, and of course the officers do not keep them corked up while traveling around,' he added.

He said as part of efforts to arrest the situation, the Police Service provides buses to carry men to and from their duty posts, but still we are not able to transport all of them, and that is why some of them board commercial vehicles for official duties'.

The director said even though the government had provided a number of vehicles to the Service in recent times some District and Divisional Police Commands do not have vehicles at all, while others have one each, which they use for all their duties in areas under their jurisdiction.

While in the Public Affairs Office at the Police Head Quarters, this reporter asked if he could have access to the Internet.

DSP Eklu burst out laughing and asked sarcastically, “Internet in this office?”

It then became clear that the Ghana Police Public Affairs Directorate is effectively cut off from the information superhighway (internet services)

DSP Eklu said anytime he, or any officer in his directorate, needed to use the Internet, they had to visit the public Internet cafes nearby.