Our country has descended into lawlessness and indiscipline because the enforcement agencies have woefully failed to live up to expectation and rather, occasionally, issue some feeble and inconsequential threats or warnings that serve no purpose. The results are obvious and many and could not be lost on those who care for a decent and orderly society.
One area where you can see total breakdown of law and order is the construction industry.
Buildings and other structures spring up everywhere and anyhow without due regard to layout and building codes.
What is supposed to be a road for public use suddenly becomes inaccessible because somebody with influence to change the rules decides to construct a house right in the middle of the road.
If that violation becomes a public issue, the only thing we hear from the local assembly and other statutory bodies responsible for enforcing the law are warnings to penalise those who have flouted the law and that ends the matter.
People perish or suffer harm or losses as a result of poorly constructed and ill-sited structures without any sanctions being applied because in our part of the world, once you are in government or know somebody close to the centre of power, all your iniquities and transgressions are automatically forgiven.
Today, every open space in Accra and the major cities is either a market, a refuse dump, a free-range toilet , a den for miscreants and drug addicts or at best, a place for noise making in the name of religion. The original purpose for that space may never be known. No doubt our cities lack the beauty and order associated with others we admire in other countries.
The rains have set in and we are going to witness the effects of the haphazard and reckless erection of structures all over the place and the only consolation will be the ritualistic vain threats from officials who have failed to deliver on their mandate.
Chaos on roads
The carnage and near-chaos on our roads are a direct consequence of the failure of the law enforcement agencies to do their work. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service in particular, and, to a lesser extent, the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), cannot escape blame for the lawless terrain or jungle that our roads have become.
It is not difficult for even the casual observer to notice that there are more unregistered motorbikes on the roads than the registered ones. Still on motorbikes, there are more motorbike riders without helmets than those who wear them. These riders do not operate in the night but in the full glare of the police. So what is the excuse for the failure to apprehend and prosecute offenders who have taken control of the roads?
The DVLA is fully aware that the use of its trade licence number plates is being abused on a very wide scale but what has been the collaboration between it and the police to enforce the law in this regard? That was why I found the warning from the police that henceforth it was going to enforce the law on the use of DVLA trade licences as shameful and unnecessary.
What was the police doing all this time while people used these licences in flagrant violation of the law?
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Rev. David Ampah-Bennin, Director General of Press and Public Affairs Directorate of the Ghana Police Service, himself quoted Regulation 23 (8) of the Road Traffic Regulation 2012 (LI2180) as follows: “A trade licence does not authorise the motor vehicle for which the licence has been issued to be used for carrying passengers, goods for hire or reward or passengers who are not engaged in testing motor vehicles or inspecting the motor vehicle with the intention to purchasing the motor vehicle”.
How religiously have we enforced this law till now? What about the abuse of horns, sirens, hazard lights, ambulances and bullion vans generally? Should the police not just go ahead and enforce the law instead of this wasteful reminders that cannot be countenanced in any serious and civilised environment?
A week ago, two innocent lives were lost because of an explosion at a gas station that was located in a heavily populated area in Dansoman, an Accra suburb. As was expected, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Energy Commission and the National Petroleum Authority are all head over heels issuing statements reminding the public of the laws on the location of these facilities and their determination to enforce these to the letter. Where have they been all this while? Where has it been the norm to give lawbreakers a period of grace? Only in Ghana.
We have heard enough of these silly jokes of issuing reminders and ultimatums to those who flout the law with impunity after a havoc has been caused and precious lives, lives that cannot be replaced, have been lost.
Strangely, the appointing authorities do not seem to see anything wrong with the obvious failure of persons to execute their responsibilities but continue to retain them in office. That is an incentive for them to continue with their irresponsible behaviour and nonchalant attitude to work.
If we should fail in everything, should we fail to enforce our own laws too? We deserve better.