When Beggars Take Over Intersections

There is a worrying influx of beggars into the country. So overwhelming is the situation that there is no traffic intersection, their favourite spots, without them.

They would descend upon any vehicle which stops at traffic intersections their hands stretched for alms sometimes the request so aggressive you wonder whether it is mandatory that they be listened to.

We have learnt about a major clampdown on street begging in Nigeria – the reason they are heading for Ghana, a lucrative location for beggars from the West African sub-region.

With Accra already suffocating with indigenous beggars from the North, the influx of the strangers does no good for the national capital.

The swarming in the streets, especially of Accra by countless hordes of beggars, constitutes a major nuisance to the nation – the capital representing its visage.

The uncontrollable drifting of such beggars from mostly Nigeria and Niger is a national security threat which we ignore at our collective peril.

Stretching our hospitability to the extent of ignoring imminent threats should not be countenanced under any circumstance.

Niger and Nigeria are still fighting a near intractable war with Boko Haram insurgents and so persons migrating from such places to Ghana to beg must be viewed with suspicion. Taking things for granted in this regard could be costly.

The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), the security agency charged with manning our frontiers, has a lot to do in managing this unwholesome influx. This reality is hampered by myriad of challenges, some of them logistic – of which we are aware.

The borders are still porous and should we embark on a physical security of these frontiers, we are looking at millions of dollars in cash something we can hardly afford given other priority areas staring government in the face.

In the long run however government must begin to consider supplying GIS personnel, especially those on border patrol operations, the necessary gadgets and firearms since approval has already been given for these.

The conditions under which they work along the frontiers are most horrible. Besides fighting an assortment of blood-sucking insects and creepy reptiles, these men and women face daredevil smugglers who are ready to kill.

In as much as the state set up the border patrol unit of the GIS, it behooves the government to equip them adequately to discharge their duties so that they can prevent suspicious beggars from setting foot here.

ECOWAS protocols must not be abused by such persons the way they are doing. Credible information has it that some of the so-called beggars come into the country with animals for sale but before these are sold by the middlemen who handle the business over a few months or so, some of them turn to the streets to beg for alms.

It might sound crazy but that is what some of them do. Ghana after all is one country where foreigners are hardly questioned about the legitimacy of their stay here so beggars can satisfy their wishes.

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and relevant agencies must join hands to tackle the influx of these beggars lest it develops into an incontrollable phenomenon.