Friday, April 23, 2021, 5: 47pm.
Aveyime Police Barrier.
North Tongu District, Volta Region.
After a long and tiring week, I was driving from Battor to Accra. There was a taxi in front of me. Nothing looked out of place to me. At the Aveyime Police Barrier, there were many policemen there. This has become normal to me after the ‘reinforcement’ following the attack on the Police Station by the ‘Western Togoland secessionist group’ last year…
Then it happened. The policeman stopped the taxi driver. He got down, went to the policeman, gave him money, went back to his car and drove off.
I was ‘boiling’ inside. I parked my car and went to the policeman. “Why did you take money from him?” He starting shaking. He didn’t know me. All he saw was that I spoke with authority. With ‘God’s blessing’ of some grey hair now, he knew I was not young, and it could be ‘dangerous’ to joke with me. I could be anybody in the country with a lot of influence. “What is your name,” I asked. “Rabiu, Sir.” “Rabiu what?” “Rabiu Sadat, Sir.” That was the name I heard.
At this point the other policemen had left him, pretending not to see what was happening. A few civilians watched in awe as a mere civilian ‘disciplined’ a policeman at a police barrier.
I had two choices in mind:
- To report him immediately to his boss at the station.
I wondered, would any action be taken against him?
- To drive on and keep him wondering who I am, and what I can get him to face for what he did.
I chose the second option, got into my car and drove off.
Not long afterwards, I overtook the taxi that brought all this drama. Then I understood everything. The taxi was having six passengers instead of four – two in front (instead of one) and four behind (instead of 3).
I became angrier.
Why would a policeman take money at a police barrier and allow a taxi driver with six passengers instead of four, go through? What should we do as a nation to curb this?
For the 19 years I have used the Battor-Accra road, I have had a lot of ‘fights’ on discipline. Maybe one day, I will put that in another piece. In the meantime, I am planning a visit to the Aveyime Police Station. This is not the first time policemen have taken (or extorted money) from drivers. The sand-winning activities in the Volta river in Battor (another issue worth looking at) means many drivers of trucks with sand are at the mercy of the policemen at the Aveyime barrier.
Who watches the watchman?
Maybe the Aveyime Police Barrier and other places should be on our radar? Do we need closed circuit TV systems to monitor activities of our policemen at the barriers and other places? Maybe when they know that they are being watched they will stop the bribery?
Change begins with me and you.