There is a popular idiom that goes: “Children should be seen and not heard”.
I agree with it, given some circumstances.
However, I believe that my thoughts have to be considered if I have to make a contribution to the development of society through speech as a concerned youth and citizen of this nation.
Thus, permit me to ‘rant’...
It has become somewhat a normality that each year during the rainy season, some parts of the country will experience floods which threaten the lives of citizens and destroy properties - and yet, time and again, the blame is put on our leaders in government.
Granted that they have an immense part to play in ensuring safety and improved livelihood for us all – it is their mandate.
However, there is equally a significant contribution that we as citizens could make to prevent this perennial menace of floods which put us all at peril.
During this season, after one or two downpours, it is not surprising to see policy makers and experts providing advice and ideas on how to tackle this problem on our screens and airwaves.
The journalists ask the same questions they did the year before, and the year before that – “what are the causes of the flooding and how do we prevent it?”-- It seems to have become a norm.
When asked to contribute to the discussion, an overwhelming number of citizens urged the government “to do their work”, “enforce the laws” or even “stop playing politics and come to our aid”.
Certainly, it is the responsibility of those in authority to put their foot down and enforce the laws of our Constitution.
Yet, it seems the populace always find a way to absolve themselves from the hazardous situation it significantly contributes to.
There are different factors which cause floods; from extreme unfavourable weather conditions to poor urban drainage, increasing loss of vegetation, poor zoning, indiscriminate disposal of waste and indiscriminate construction, among others. Of the aforementioned, can it be said that the Ghanaian citizen is not to blame for contributing to these factors?
Let us consider a few things comprehensively, shall we?
It is the responsibility of the government, through the Ministry of Works and Housing, which is also responsible for policies relating to the construction of buildings, to ensure, among others, that there is proper zoning and protection of residents.
Yet we see structures being put up in obviously waterlogged, low-lying areas.
Who gives people permit to do so?
A citizen would quickly answer saying, “The government of course!” But then I ask you the reader, who persistently finds a way to coerce (I shan’t use the word bribe) those in authority to bypass the law so their mansion could be built on that ‘idle’ piece of land?
(Again, I will not talk about the sustenance of values such as integrity among our leaders, a discussion for another day).
Who ignores the red-paint warnings of the metropolitan/municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) from erecting structures which could even cause disasters because of the materials used or the location, in addition to the speed with which they are built? Who?
Proper waste disposal
When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through advertisements, schools through education and the media through social awareness encourage us to properly dispose of our waste, do we pay attention?
If one politely tells another to pick up rubbish the latter had just dropped in a gutter, he or she would likely tell the former that “the rain would wash it away” or that “others do same, so go and tell them first”.
It is this attitude and lack of concern that has brought us to our current predicament.
If every Ghanaian vows not to litter just anyhow for a year, there certainly would be positive effects on our environment.
I wish to emphasise the need for us to keep our policy makers and leaders on their toes by constructively criticising them and making sure they deliver their sole mandate of serving our motherland to their full capacities.
Nevertheless, I ask that we stay true to the words of our National Pledge:
I promise on my honour
To be faithful and loyal to Ghana my Motherland.
I pledge myself to the service of Ghana with all my strength and with all my heart.
I promise to hold in high esteem.
Our heritage, won for us through the blood and toil of our fathers;
And I pledge myself in all things to uphold and defend the good name of Ghana.
So help me God.
The writer is a student at the Ashesi University.