Africa · Ghana · Musings · Opinion

FIXING GHANA: A CONVERSATION WITH A STRANGER

While waiting for a friend at Madina yesterday, I got into a tête-a-tête with a man who appeared to be waiting for someone. Across the road from us, a storey building was being constructed on an initial and now old, one floor building. My fellow observer, after taking a look at the balcony of the building under construction commented on how thin the floor separating the new upper floor from the old ground floor was. And I, after a quick perusal of adjacent buildings, realized that they had thicker verandas. I then got a quick lesson on how the addition of a roof would increase the weight on the thin, new floor and could lead to a collapse of the building. He lamented the poor job being done and noted how the building was a disaster waiting to happen.

To my shame, a quick thought, that I was safe since I would probably never use that building, crossed my mind.
I immediately felt contrite and began to ask myself if the possibility I would not be affected by such an occurrence absolved me from the need to be concerned about an act that looked likely to end in disaster.

I looked around me and saw examples of this malaise around. A passerby spitting in the middle of the road; the old woman who had set up her goods under a transformer while dark clouds swirled above; the shoe peddler sat in the middle of a pedestrian walkway peddling his wares; the orange seller who had laid her oranges on the bare ground; the waakye seller who had set up directly by an overflowing gutter. I turned back around, intending to point these out to my new “friend” but he had slunk away.

However, I had learnt a lot in those brief moments. A culture of satisfying our personal needs regardless of its effects on the collective pervades society.
Each of these acts and the myriad of other illegal and/or unhealthy acts are a menace to the development of us as a people and a nation.

Of course, there are probably laws against each of the acts I’ve mentioned but we need to rise above personal wants, feelings and desires if we are to change as a people.

I don’t begrudge the landowner from maximizing his land space or the old woman who’s trying to earn a living but are these worth their lives and the lives of other innocent people in society?

The sooner we confront these uncomfortable questions, the earlier our desire for change will become manifest.

– Senam Ferdie

P.S. I am still horrified at the events of June 3rd at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. Two of my friends were at or around that vicinity that evening just a few hours before the sad event. I can’t describe the horror I still feel at what happened and can only pray that the victims’ families are granted the fortitude to bear the loss.

P.S.2 A “joke” has been going around on Ghana social media that passengers of a bus beat the driver when he attempted to refuel at a filling station.

I don’t find this funny especially after recent events.
Also, am I the only one who is uneasy when a driver attempts to refuel a vehicle with passengers in it?

Anything, from a running engine to a mobile phone could trigger an explosion and I’m not really comfortable with exposure to this danger on a fairly regular basis. I don’t understand why drivers cannot fuel their vehicles before picking up passengers.

The next time the driver of the vehicle you’re in attempts to refuel with passengers in the vehicle, maybe you all should gang up and beat up the driver for real.

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12 thoughts on “FIXING GHANA: A CONVERSATION WITH A STRANGER

  1. good read Senam… the refueling bit, i can relate to personally. i had to endure similar yesterday. driver stopped at the station with his engine running and only killed it after the passengers n pump attendant had ”gently coaxed” him into doing so. i put my Max in flight mode and hoped no one else’s phone would cause any mishap. my relief when I realised all was done and good as we turned onto the main Accra-Madina highway was very clear, as the smartly dressed young lady sitting next to me toward the window giggled when she saw my face relax and shoulders drop while i thought to myself, ”oh thank God”.

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    1. Funny thing is, it twice happened to me yesterday. And the attendant was actually the biggest culprit; he placed his phone on the pump!!!
      Thinking of starting a #Putoffyourengines movement.
      We mustn’t wait until a disaster occurs before we start to take these simple safety measures serious

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  2. Some of we Ghanaians can never change our attitudes.We are always doing the exact opposite things.I was in a trotro going to work in the morning and the driver was talking on his cell phone, wasn’t even using a hands free so i told him to get to a bus stop then he can call the person back.some of the passengers in the trotro started arguing with me that we are in Ghana so i should stop behaving like i’m a foreigner.So i didn’t keep quite,i told them my piece of mind.Then we got to a fuel station and the attendant told the driver to turn off the engine before they can fell the tank he said no.This man doesn’t know that this can cause an explosion.I see people on their mobile phones at gas stations and i wonder which planet they come from.My grandma who never went to school knows that,it’s not safe for you to use your phone when it;s raining and you’re outside or when there’s lightning.Some people will only try to change when they’re in their graves but it will be too late by then. You will see someone in a moving car and they will spit anyhow without thinking where the wind will blow the spit to.I have a problem with that.Please if there’s a law against spitting anyhow in public,let me know. i really like your topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol i don’t know if there’s a law against public spitting but i will let you know if i hear of it. On the road safety issue, the NPA has recently been publishing safety tips for drivers on how to properly behave at filling stations. More needs to be done tho. I mean, how many trotro drivers or taxi drivers read newspapers?

      Sorry for the late response. Haven’t been to a cafe in a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another good Article Ferdie. It is indeed horrifying that people knowingly place others at risk for their own selfish gain. After the dreadful event which occurred at Nkrumah circle last week its been in the news that the EPA are checking up on some filling stations, and several of them have turned out not have a permit or right documentation to do their job and yet all this while been working in broad daylight. I hate to say this but when we learn to PREVENT a disaster when it is in our power to do so rather than COPE with its effects. Will man ever learn? Keep up the good work…

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  4. Hmmm ……nice article… it’s very horrible how some of us wait relax in our offices until disasters happen before we get to work. dis attitude must be changed and we de members of society must also make concious efforts so we dnt get eaten by such catastrophes

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  5. I wonder if it’s possible to get communities to engage in some healthy competition like, “Cleanest Community in Accra” or “Safest Petrol Station in Ghana” etc. – people will want to be there so the community/business sees an economic advantage – then it becomes “cool” to be clean and safe and people are proud of their surroundings. It’s so human nature to cut corners and do things the easier way – or to do things the cheapest way and maximize their own profits – and I don’t think this is going to change no matter how many disasters there are. It’s mindsets that need to change to see more immediate advantage to doing things the right way even if it costs more or takes longer – immediate in terms of money in one’s pocket. It’s not just Ghana – we’ve had so many tragedies in the US from shoddy building practices, and even here in my community our storm drains get clogged with trash and overflow during our summer rainstorms. And even some idiots still try to leave their engines on while fueling though they get shouted down by other customers.

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    1. The idea of organizing competitions is a brilliant one. We have a national sanitation day on the first Saturday of every month. A competition will encourage more people to turn out as well as ensure that they play an active role in the cleanliness of their surroundings

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