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01.04.2020 Opinion

COVID-19: Ghanaians Want Lockdown, Not “Beat-Down”: My Letter To You!!!

By Mark Yama Tampuri Jnr
COVID-19: Ghanaians Want Lockdown, Not “Beat-Down”: My Letter To You!!!
LISTEN APR 1, 2020

Eee, Ase aba. There are ``Mensahs`` everywhere ooo, even including those who won't obey lockdown order by H.E the president. Ayoooooo.

There has been news of some security operatives beating citizens for not obeying the lockdown. This must not be accepted, and those involved must be called out. The COVID-19 measures must be rolled out under a principle of rule of law, and beating people or treating people in an undignified manner can not be said to be one. Well, that's an issue to ponder on.

Today I come in with just one concern. Some of the people you may see outside especially near the markets are homeless in there. Their predicament is a result of society, and our social networks not working. These people sleep in the markets. On ordinary days they will be doing their 1or or 2 things during the day and goes back to sleep on the shelves and in front of stores. Hey, I have a disclaimer soldier man- This was written under duress of lockdown state. Hehe, on a normal day, I mean without any hideout in lockdown, I dare not say this…heheheheh, please don't give me a ``dirty-slap`` when we meet.

Well, enough of my apologies. I have a serious matter at hand. And it has to do with how Ghana treats those who live by the day and those who live by the day and are homeless. So this my casual social writeup is for these two categories. The rest, ah well I don't know la.

When markets are mostly locked now during the day, and because of the lockdown, some may be deprived of access to their "shelves" and`` kiosk`` they call ``homes`` and will be loitering around commercial areas. These include the Kayayes. (I hear say VP give them GH500 but I dey ask where are the hostels you promise we the kayaye la). Their problems are not only money but also some not having access to their sleeping places anymore because they are locked now. This is happening in South Africa, and India is worse. These people don't need beating, no beating can correct their predicaments, rather a program to afford them some short-term vents/structures to stay with govt supervision will. I heard the ``gender ministry`` is evaluating this possibility. That's commendable. It will ensure safety for the breakers of the law and even security personnel at the frontlines while the lockdown orders are widely obeyed. Just thinking oo, on lockdown when everyone is supposed to stay indoors, some have no place to stay because the stores they slept in front at night won't open. The place most call their "homes" have been sealed off.

It's a social issue as well. Have you been wondering about some of the excuses those who break the law and found outside give? Yes, some are unthinkable…I heard one man saying he lied to security officers that he was going to buy medicine. When queried by the journalist he said he lied to them, he only was around to see what is going on in the street. Of course, some Ghanaians will vent their anger on such excuses. Please do not rush to get angry- The truth is that the streets are home to these people, but they lack the courage and strength to tell the security forces that they have no homes, they lack that strength to tell the government that we are locked out of our homes- the streets and the market shelves which are inaccessible to them now. They then come up with excuses. Blame them not Ghanaians, they are just some of the problems we face. It is like the proverbial African parent ``who lashes a child and warn you not to cry``.

Did we not hear some ``kayayes`` trying to flee from lockdown in a truck supposedly to be containing yams for transport? Yes, they were fleeing hunger, amidst a government shutdown. The shutdown is welcomed, indeed it should be heightened so we all work out together and stay at home mostly to flatten the curve and reduce the numbers of infection when it peaks. But with any humanity left, these people need help, not beatings. The plight is as a result of the very realities of the society.

Of course, there are some too who might just want to go the other way with behaviour. As someone said ``the problem with Ghanaians is that, if you ask them not to go out, some will go out to see if indeed no one went out``. But this kind of behaviours are to be expected and measures taken to curtail them. In some countries, we have seen people going out of their homes just to lock for people or security personnel to infect them with the virus. That's the world we live in.

There are many ways of solving this (but not through injustice). One way I believe is for the government to provide again short-term vents/structures with health and security officers. Quarantine these people flouting the rules for 14 days, feed them at least on an SHS diet budget and make them face justice in a law court after their 14-day quarantine. Even in a lockdown, people are still innocent until proven guilty. Note that, others will always have an ulterior motive, and the objective of the country is supposed to protect all including the security personnel as well and I believe that taking a public health approach is better than forceful exchanges.

Some measures;
I heard the Vice President of Ghana has given some Kayaye's some Ghs 500 each. That's worth commending as it is solving some of the economic issues they face when they cannot go to work anymore. It's practical, some won't even have money for a day's food. That's practically a way to solving issues responsibly. We all know, these Kayeye live by the day. Their meal at night is dependent on their work during the day so such acts are welcoming to mitigate any hardship.

I also heard (Always hearing now since I'm in lockdown) The "Gender ministry" being called to come in to help with the social aspect, thus, provide short-term structures for the homeless loitering around commercial areas.

For officials vested with power in these crucial moments, let's remember Gandhi's Oct. 27 letter, “Prop. 1 helps homeless kids, ” saying that “The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members.” Sure, The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest member, ” And to the people, this is a trying and difficult time for all of us. Even though HIV has been around for some time, the last respiratory pandemic disease was 100 years ago, something most of us never saw. We are in uncharted terrain!!! We will need to work together to end this pandemic, to secure our future. Let us stay indoors and respect the president order, for they are backed by the law. Let's strive to abide by the president's directive, let's support each other and let's maintain the rule of law.

Till we meet again sometime soon after, lockdown. Until then, stay indoors for the safety of everyone. Your life depends on me, and my life depends on you. #Shalom.

By Mark Yama Tampuri Jnr| PhD Candidate of Management Science and Engineering | Jiangsu University, China

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