Whenever I see the “Stop work, produce permit” writing on any uncompleted building, I interpret it to mean a failed system where officials who sleep on the job can go scot free.
They face no reprimand for allowing unauthorised structures to travel to some stage before anyone realises so.
I am applying the same interpretation to what one sees lately on the Ring Road Central where squatting families have been allowed to set up day time “homes” on a portion of that busy road. They are there, whole families of mother, babies, toddlers and young children during the day with all the litter.
At night time, they are gone to goodness knows where, leaving their litter behind, only to return, sometimes with fathers, in the day. Are responsible authorities waiting for them to amass before someone moves in to stop them?
Ring Road Central
I use Ring Road a lot if I have to go out. For some months now, I noticed some young children of school-going age have been hanging around the Ring Road Central begging for money from motorists and pedestrians. Gradually, that increased to a few more children with mothers.
Now, it has become an eyesore. Mothers with babies and toddlers have allotted themselves positions under the shrubs planted to beautify the stretch. They have mercilessly trampled on the grass and made that stretch their day time abode.
They come with their bottles of water, relax, eat and drink there, while their younger children play around and move from one vehicle to another in the traffic slow down to beg. Earlier this week, I spotted a man joining them to relax in the shade. Wherever they do their washing, they would spread their laundry on the distressed grass to dry among the rubbish they had generated.
All this is happening on a busy road in the capital with banks and other commercial setups in clear view. Are we waiting for a whole community of squatters and beggars to move their entire daily activities into that open space in the middle of a city where efforts are being made to tidy up, before threats and warnings are issued?
The Department of Social Welfare, in conjunction with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly should do us the favour by stopping this indiscipline and eyesore from the Ring Road Central.
Making Accra work
Just a week ago, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, set his “Make Accra Work” plan in motion. He is determined to bring discipline back into the way we do things and make Accra work again like in any serious capital city.
Actions of these squatters with begging children on our streets, if not stopped, could derail every effort of the Regional Minister and his team.
If part of the team’s agenda is to free all pavements and greeneries on major roads of the city, then this is one of the hindrances that must be tackled without consideration. The longer it is left, the more these people think they have the liberty to do as they please.
Certainly, our hospitality has been over-stretched in this instance. Our patience has been tested for too long because at certain traffic intersections like the Korle-Bu Road, Holy Spirit Cathedral and a few others, the practice of what I call invasion of squatters and beggars have been left to flourish. Can we build a clean city and leave such lawlessness untouched as if they are normal?
Elsewhere, these able-bodied mothers and fathers would have been rounded up for reprimand for exposing their babies and young children in this manner. In extreme cases, the children would have been taken from them and temporary care given by social services.
We have hidden behind poverty and human rights and used them as excuses for some individuals to engage in and perpetuate all manner of unacceptable practices. It is time for the allied authorities to stamp their feet for the right things to be done while stamping out such lawlessness and unacceptable behaviours.
If Accra must work then it must work with clean, clear and beautiful roads, streets and pavements.
We need a clean city by all means and this time, it should work for good.
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