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Okoe and Gomorrah

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I was just around my midteens that an interview on a news item about tourism or so caught my attention. Now in the news interview, the journalist asked a foreigner-I believe from the US-what he thought about Ghana. With a smile, the guy said,”O Ghana is a lovely place, with very friendly people and we are busy doing other things than picking rubbish lying on the ground”. I felt murdered. And the way this guy said it so casually, he meant it, without any malice. And I believe anyone else who watched that news would remember the “friendly” bit and never the “rubbish” bit. I am 24 years old now, and I believe, our biggest biggest problem in this country is filth! Waste management,zero percent! I may have time to talk about that, but let me delve right into the Sodom and Gomorrah saga.

First of all, without any shadow of doubt, this tough decision taken by the AMA was as a result of the recent floods and its accompanying deaths. Yes, death toll, over a hundred. There are two sides to this disaster, one the location of the fuel station and the second, the blockage of water ways. I would deal with the latter.

Our biggest bane as a nation has been INACTION. I imagine if any citizen in London can wake up one day and just start a settlement say, by the Thames. You must be joking! But here in Ghana, o of course you can start something. Keep building and pray none comes questioning. We have watched while one tent became two, and structures started erupting. And now its a whole mini “city”. What did government do when they started settling there? We just turned a blind eye. Politics stopped us from removing the illegal squatters in the past cos no one wants to be voted against. It’s just a representation of what goes on everywhere in this country. We know the right thing! But heyy,a government comes into power and the first thing they think of is how to win the next election. So depending on who is in or out of power would determine the foe or friend of these illegal squatters at Old Fadama. Floods have come and gone,and all we see and hear periodically are threats by the local authorities to eject them. Of course, it’s just empty threats; something to keep Ghanaians quiet for a while. Political will to perform a vital duty that would save lives is virtually non existent! But the political will to buy new cars or increase the exgratia of our big men it’s tremendous, immediate and decisive.

Now to the residents. I heard their so-called secretary making noise threatening the peace and security of this country; quoting UN conventions here and there. Well, I can’t tell if he knew that pouring saw dust and sand into the lagoon to build selfishly on is against the laws of everything! They throw garbage straight into the lagoon. And they go like, “Where do you want us to go? Arent we all Ghanaians?” Trying to question the morality of the ejectors and Ghanaians.

I haven’t traveled much, but I know that if you come to Accra and want to settle, you first ask,”O how much does it cost to rent a room in Accra?” Isn’t that more moral a question than destroying a particular place and asking,”Where do you want us to go?” I cant go to Tamale for instance, find a piece of land and build there and claim “I dont have anywhere to go. Or compensate me before I leave!” What on earth is that? If I dont have anywhere to go, didn’t I come from somewhere? Why won’t I go back? We have lacked the political will to remove these people for a very long time. These people demonstrated violently destroying property, blocking roads and hurting the police and journalists! So much for morality! Even because of this violence they portrayed, residents of Adjen Kotoku, where plans are being for them to be relocated are raising red flags. After all, if you can beat up the police, what won’t you do to them? And you have a people come on radio and attribute this violence to another political party. What kinda childish politics is this? Can’t we grow up? What is wrong is wrong! When would the NDC and NPP agree that, this one di33 it must change! Or we want to see 400 people dying in another flood before we find it an excuse to remove them? I dont belong to Okoe’s party, neither do I belong to the AMA. I belong to Ghana! And that’s what is important. As I write this piece, “Okoe and Gomorrah”, I feel angry in my spirit. I feel Ghana has been taken for granted. Things need to change. The lagoon must be clean. Many things need to be done. At least this demolition is a start. The demonstration and violence is the price we have to pay for acting late!

JONATHAN MENSAH,UCC.

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