Have you ever driven through certain parts of the city of Accra only to hit road blocks mounted to turn the road into the venue of a social event – naming ceremony, funeral, graduation from a vocational trade or some other thing.
Driving to a friend’s house for an emergency issue a few weeks ago, I got to the road linking the Caprice area end of the Castle Royalty Road to the Faanofaa Street, only to be faced with an array of canopies in the middle of this otherwise very busy road.
Together with the cars ahead of me, we had no option than to make a U-turn and later take a detour through Accra New Town. The time loss as well as other inconveniences suffered can only be imagined. Why the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (A.M.A.), the Motor Transport and Traffic Unit (MTTU) of the Police Service are able to look on whilst such clear breaches of road traffic regulations are committed in the full glare of anyone who cares.
Certain townships and neighbourhoods appear to be most notorious for this – Nungua, Teshie, Osu, Jamestown, Arena, Mamprobi, Agege, Sukura, Adabraka, Lagos town, La among others.
My initial reaction when this phenomenon first dawned on me was that we did not have enough venues in these localities for such social gatherings, but hold on a second – whilst these lawless activities go on, the public school parks there are still empty. That obviously gives an indication that the problem is more cultural than need for public open spaces.
The AMA and its officials have always insisted that one of its biggest concerns was the blocking of major streets in communities, a situation that greatly hamper vehicular and human movement, just for the celebration of social activities. Why the AMA is unable to go beyond its rhetoric and zoom into action is something that has amazed me.
In a very recent directive issued by Mr Philip Lamptey, the Ablekuma Sub-Metro Chairman of the AMA, he said, “it has come to the notice of the Assembly that the holding of such funeral get-togethers, out-doorings, church services and marriage ceremonies is hampering social cohesion in the Metropolis”.
There are instances where mourners take the law into their hands and block streets with canopies, chairs and play loud music, disturbing the serenity of residents. Beyond this, I have also heard our nicely-bearded Mayor, Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpiuje saying virtually the same thing.
My dear friend, the blocking of streets for these events has sometimes led to people not being able to receive distress help from especially by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) or the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) in emergencies. The providers of these emergency services manage to get to these areas only to be impeded by unauthorized road blocks for these social activities which sometimes run very late into the night.
Some funeral mourners are even rumoured to pound fufu in the evenings on the street, amidst the playing of loud music, thereby, disturbing the peaceful sleep of Ghanaians who need to catch sleep, to enable them prepare for a productive day thereafter.
It is about time this canker is halted immediately to create a convenient atmosphere for residents of the city. I expect that local government authorities use the same zeal they have marshalled in bulldozing unauthorized structures in the various localities into halting this unnecessary menace. The city of Accra as well as the other cities obviously deserve better than this.