…of a near perfect rail system, vibrant squatters & encroaching coaches!

Take a close look at the picture above and watch closely; 3 State Transport Company coaches parked right next to the rail line at the Kwame Nkrumah circle. They have some good people in those buses, seeking to travel safely out of Accra, to other parts of the country. Such irony and sharp contrast, especially when STC is touted as arguably the safest coach company in Ghana. This one be safety? Now, pay attention to the brick and mortar structures springing up and the table top business competing for space in such a dangerous and haphazard manner. They would soon be permanent offices and clearing them will be a tough task that will cost us a lot of state funds. At least, we were there not so long ago. The laws state that there should be a non-negotiable 50-meter space on both sides of the rail line (100 meters in all), to ensure safety at all times, just so no one gets hurt or killed should a train derail. But we don’t give a goat’s posterior about that. What you see in this picture started with a single coach and a table. Prior to that, there was a face-off between officials of STC and VIP. Eventually, the state was able to ‘twist’ the hands of VIP to have their way. The argument at the time was that the original STC yard within the south industrial area was far off and that it was dwindling STC’s business because they are losing their customers to VIP Jeoun. I am wondering what happened to their marketing strategist, who ought to have the knack to take in revenue by making the original STC yard more attractive and ensuring safety in the process. The law is on paper, but nobody is willing to enforce it. We are just happy, trumpeting the profit margins of the new STC under Nana Akomea, but we aren’t bothered about how they make that money. That’s pretty much akin to someone who engages in dubious or illegal business and is still given accolades as a BIG man. And, we have boldly ignored this precaution for the sake of business. Across the street, the OA bus terminal and others are also spreading very fast and we are all looking on. Yet we claim we want to revamp our rail sector and elevate it to international standards. Is this how wise people behave? We are waiting for something bad to happen. And then, the pity parties and long-inconsistent-speeches will begin with a ridiculous ‘human face’ sermon and photo opportunities that may end quickly when the next controversy arrives with a bang. I have contacted officials of the Accra Metropolitan and Klottey Korle Assemblies, and they can’t seem to know who owns and controls that space. There is confusion over boundary and responsibility. But some people are paid with our taxes to ensure this doesn’t happen. They do not know who gave the STC and others the permit to flout our laws, or maybe, they are just pretending not to know. In the meantime, business is booming and danger is looming. Will the local assembly have the moral justification to clear the squatters from that space, if they haven’t been able to keep other state institutions like the STC in check? Who has the job to ensure that this doesn’t happen? And why isn’t that person acting with seriousness? This is not good. It is improper. But will we ever learn? Will we?

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By Johnnie Hughes| 3news|Ghana The writer is Johnnie Hughes, a community rights’ advocate, a sanitation torchbearer and host of Community Connect on 3fm 92.7 on Fridays at 9:00 am]]>