Deal with market fires now, AMA

BY: Arku Jasmine

The challenges of our time are not the consequences of inadequate legislation but purely because of the growing incidence of impunity in our society. Ghana boasts the finest statutes on the continent yet many deviants are on the prowl causing pain to law-abiding citizens.
When it comes to fire outbreaks in our markets, we cannot conclude that the entire traders are responsible for the disasters.

However, although the causes of the fires have oftentimes not been made public, we know that the disasters might have been caused by electrical faults and naked fires left on by those who cook in the markets.

The DAILY GRAPHIC finds it difficult to come to terms with the inability of the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to enforce their bylaws that prohibit the challenges that facilitate the outbreak of the fires.

Our markets have been described as time bombs that will explode soon to ‘consume’ whole generations if we do not take the necessary remedial steps to make the trading posts safe.

There are no access roads in the markets to serve as thoroughfares in times of tragedies; they are overcrowded. There are illegal electricity connections and cooking goes on with dangerous combustibles such as charcoal and liquefied petroleum gas.

While these dangerous activities go on, the statutory authorities such as the district assemblies spare no time in collecting their rates and fees but not a thought to fix the problems.

We are amazed at the decision of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to now disconnect all illegal electrical connections within markets in Accra as part of the measures put in place by the assembly to curb the frequent incidence of fire outbreaks.

The assembly has announced other wide-ranging measures such as the closure of the markets at 6 p.m. every day to be able to deal with the spate of fire outbreaks.

The actions are good steps to restore sanity in our markets but the moves have taken very long in coming because if the AMA had enforced its own bylaws, some of the fire disasters could have been averted.

The culture of impunity is killing our society and making it difficult for us to recap the benefits of our labour, as well as investments in programmes, to create wealth and jobs for the people.

We think that the progress of our society lies in the application of the carrot and stick principles where those who do good are rewarded while the deviants are penalised to serve as a deterrent to others.

The DAILY GRAPHIC dare say that our society will make little or no progress if the people decide to disregard the regulations that govern the conduct of our behaviours.

This must be a sad commentary though but the reality is that our society is descending into the state of nature where might is right.

The spectacle of a society where the laws no longer provide the safety values can be seen on our roads, in our communities, in the markets, at the workplaces and in the schools.

We have condemned ourselves to this state of hopelessness because we are lawless and therefore not prepared to submit to the narrow path of building a society on the foundations of the rule of law.

The AMA has a Herculean task in shaping the lives of millions of people in the city of Accra and those who travel to the city every day.

Majority of residents are not too happy about the way the AMA has handled issues of  sanitation, floods and the erection of unauthorised structure, as well as traffic management in the city but the  residents and commuters too have to fulfil their obligation of a good citizen.

Recent fires have caused so much pain to traders who have lost properties to such disasters and the DAILY GRAPHIC therefore hopes that the AMA will strictly enforce its latest guidelines to protect our markets against avoidable fires.

We shall hold the AMA to account to the people of the city especially about how it will enforce the guidelines on the markets.

Let us see more action in the efforts of the AMA to build a Millennium City that facilitates a pleasurable stay for all residents. For once, the DAILY GRAPHIC expects the AMA to muster the courage to resist any mechanisation to scuttle its plans to get the right things done in the city.