About two or three years ago, the police, in collaboration with Citi TV were on the streets of Accra arresting drivers who were disobeying traffic rules. The exercise, which was carried out during the peak hours, saw the arrest of several people, irrespective of their status in society. The development brought orderliness on our roads, as those driving Land Cruiser vehicles and other posh cars began to respect traffic regulations.
In fact, in one of the videos shown on Citi TV, the then COP George Akuffo Dampare, who is now the Inspector General of Police (IGP), was seen driving to work during the morning rush hour, without making any attempt to drive on the shoulders of the ever busy Spintex Road in Accra.
Though Dr. Dampare could have also ordered his driver and with the assistance of his bodyguard, to drive on the shoulders of the road in order to get to his office early, he did not do that. Rather, he obeyed the traffic rules whilst Land Cruiser vehicle owners were disregarding the law.
Unfortunately, because Citi TV cameras have stopped going round the city, the police have also relaxed. As a matter of fact, there is a complete breakdown of law and order on our roads. The Land Cruiser vehicle owners have gone back to what they were doing in the past – disrespecting traffic rules. On Accra-Kasoa, Accra-Nsawam, Tema-Aflao roads and some of the inner roads in the national capital, these vehicles drive with careless abandon.
They see themselves as supper human beings who do not have to join traffic queues. They sometimes drive in the opposite lanes forcing incoming vehicles to adopt defence driving techniques to avoid head on collision. Interestingly, police officers are sometimes seen around, but they are afraid to rein in these erring drivers.
They (police) wrongly assume that they are ‘big men’ or untouchable people and do not even bother to stop them. Clearly, if this is the way police officers who have been clothed with powers to enforce law and order are thinking, then we have a bid problem on hand. When President Barrack Obama came to Accra some years back, he advised us to build strong institutions and NOT strong individuals.
A strong institution will not care about who you are in society – their duty is to enforce the law. Until we build that sort of mentality, lawlessness will always be our portion. The attitude of these Land Cruiser owners on our roads is very nauseating, but they seem to be having the freedom to ‘ply their trade’.
However, instead of displaying the sign of despair, The Chronicle calls on IGP Dampare to ensure that the discipline returns to our roads. He is one of the few IGPs who has shown that he has the testicular fortitude to deal with any situation. Until he assumed office, some of our so-called big men thought they were above the law, but when he started arresting and detaining them for flouting the law, they have now seen their ‘smoothness levels’.
We expect this to continue on our roads as well so that every motorist will respect the traffic rules. The current situation where certain category of motorist is allowed to break the law without any punishment, whilst others are arrested and punished, is not good for nation building.
In the United Kingdom for instance, a whole Prime Minister was arrested and given a ticket for driving in a bus line. Can this happen in Ghana – the answer is a big NO, but this is what the situation should have been. If a trotro driver can be arrested for flouting traffic rules, then the same measures must be applied when it comes to those who think they have the money or they occupy certain positions in government and can, therefore, look down upon the laws of the land. Dr. IGP, The Chronicle is watching to see what happens.