By Honourable Saka
Corruption will not allow Ghanaian officials to do the right thing, not even for once. As I write this, my heart is seriously bleeding for the future of Ghana, my beloved country. Today, negligence and the disregard for the law has become too common that almost everyone in the country especially those in authority are more guilty that the man in the street. Instead of leaders to lead by examples, they?re rather good at making speeches, whiles they look up to the ordinary citizen to do to obey the laws. Little or no attention is paid to health and safety. In fact, it looks like even those who have been given the authority to enforce these regulations are do not even seem to understand how the system must work.
Blame The Politicians
On the early morning of Wednesday, at about 9:30hrs GMT, MELCOM, one of Ghana?s shopping malls located near Achimota in the capital city, had collapsed due to negligence and the usual poor maintenance culture in Ghana. Due to its large size, about 50 people were trapped in the collapsed building and there were many who were feared dead at the time.
On hearing the news, immediately, the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), the Ghana National Fire Service and some selected members from the Ghana Arm Forces, were deployed to the accident scene to help with the rescue mission.
Because the incidence is a national disaster, one would expect that, those tasked with the rescue mission would be well abreast with?Health and Safety issues?on site, especially since the incidence involved a collapsed building structure, with falling debris here and there. In fact the whole atmosphere was smelling disaster, requiring the Safety officials to be on high alert at the scene.
As expected, the President of the Republic, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama appeared on the accident scene, cladded in red t-shirt, with his large entourage. As usual, the president made a speech which touched on Health and Safety issues. He highlighted the poor maintenance culture in the country and the people?s complete disregard for the Code of Practice in the construction industry. ?Those whosenegligence?led to the tragedy will pay a price?, said the president.
When the president of Ghana was speaking on?the accident scene, one would expect that?he and his team?would guard themselves in some kind of?health and safety boots, with safety helmets and some high visibility jackets and possibly some goggles?especially since his speech touched on the code of practice, negligence and the need to pay attention to safety in the construction industry in the country.
However,?what did Ghanaians see on their TV sets??The president and his team were in their usual?t-shirts, slippers and shoes.?No safety boots, no helmets, not high visibility jackets no goggles! No regard for safety even on the accident site! But this is our beloved president telling us about negligence when even his own team did not demonstrate how it must be done on an accident site/scene. This is an absolute disgrace to the Health and Safety teams on the scene especially those who led the president on tour the accident scene. All the construction experts in the country as a whole must bow their heads in shame for allowing such a thing to happen in the country.
Even though I cannot entirely blame the president for this ?negligence? which he himself has been found guilty of, I think it is time for the people of Ghana to realize that their tax moneys are not properly being utilize. Especially when we have such a national disaster, to the point where the safety of our beloved president and his team could not properly be taken care of.
What would have happened if the president had treaded on some broken bottle, or some sharp iron rods upon his arrival on the site? What would have happened if there were some falling debris elsewhere on the site? Can the people of Ghana truly trust that the safety of our president is in good hands?
As the government intends to hold those found guilty of negligence accountable, I am appealing to the president to hold accountable, the Health and Safety officials on the site, who displayed such level of negligence in regards to the safety of the president and his entourage.
We do not want to hear of our president visiting an accident scene only to find himself in another accident due to the negligence on the part of some incompetent officials somewhere.
We the youth in Ghana mean business when we say we love Ghana and we do not want the negligence on the part of a few people in authority to jeopardize our happiness.
Ghanaians as a whole need attitudinal change and this must begin from the top to the grassroots. Holding ourselves accountable must follow a top-down approach because many of our leaders in authority are guiltier than the ordinary citizens, when it comes to blatant disregard for our laws and the rules of engagement.
In the meantime, let me take this opportunity to express my sincere sympathy to Ghanaians all over the world in this troubled times. I also send my message of condolences to the bereaved families and all those who might have sustained some injuries due to the negligence of our leaders. Corruption will not allow the metropolitan/district assemblies to do the right thing in our communities. As long as bribes are collected, these authorities will approve of anything. Right now, it appears the Health and Safety regulations are only enforced on those who do not have the money to buy their way through. No wonder more buildings are continuously sighted along power grids and many more such dangerous places in the country.
I weep for the future of Ghana, my beloved country.
Long live Ghana.