The success story of decongesting the Central Business District of Accra is being overshadowed by the seeming human rights abuses committed by members of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s (AMA) taskforce.
If the story narrated by some victims of the high-handedness of the taskforce created to deal with the congestion in the business district is credible and there is no reason to dismiss it, then something has gone wrong.
One of the women, a tomato trader who brings in the highly perishable vegetables from Burkina Faso claimed that she was given a taser shock by a member of the taskforce. According to her, the taskforce told her not to offload her products at a particular location and when she posed questions she received the electrical shock as punishment.
Turning to the Police and threatening to go to court, she was told by the law enforcement agency at Agbogbloshie in Accra that if she dared she would lose the chance of doing business at the place. This, is in our opinion, is unfair and inappropriate. Why should she be denied the right to go to court because she felt unfairly treated by the AMA operatives?
Another woman claimed that those who took shots of the maltreatment of the traders risked having their mobile devices destroyed by the AMA operatives.
The foregone trigger a number of issues related to human rights abuses. Using such draconian means to get traders off certain parts of the city cannot be the best means of addressing the congestion problem in the business district.
The success of the congestion exercise can be measured by the absence of cruelty to the traders. The use of crude treatment to have the women leave the streets cannot be acceptable. Mr. Adjei Sowah assured us that persuasion was going to be used to achieve the objective. If persuasion has been marginalized and force, in fact a crude form of it, is being used on poor and helpless women then there is a cause for worry.
When power is given to members of a taskforce of this quality, the need to supervise them and to ensure that overzealousness does not become their feature should not be overlooked.
We think and we stand to be corrected that some members of the taskforce have been too harsh on the women in a manner almost at par with what pertained when the notorious ‘abaee’ AMA men who often paraded the streets and inflicting inhuman treatment on defaulters.
It is our submission, therefore, that the CEO of AMA constitutes a committee to probe the allegations being leveled against members of his taskforce and take punitive action against defaulters.
Using canes and tasers on women should not, under any circumstances, be tolerated. Even as they undertake the rather challenging task of ensuring decency in the streets in the business district, members of the taskforce should be mindful about the infringement of the human rights of the women.