SUNDAY MORNING UNDER COVID-19 CONDITIONS

Before one gets out of bed this Sunday morning, dilemmas are already on hand to ruin one’s breakfast.

Does one go to see people, as one fervently wishes to do? What does one say to someone who wants to attend a funeral, 120 miles away from Accra, despite the reports that despite the warnings of the experts in the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Medical Association and some concerned individual scientists, people are still going about without wearing masks?

Social distancing does not exist in our markets and lorry stations. Nor in passenger vehicles (of course)! 

Under these conditions, is it wise for people to travel to funerals? One can only suggest…. decisions are for each individual to make.

As could have been expected on such a morning, there is a calamity! 

Just as one was about to finish the physical exercises that are the order of the day, the ceiling fan stops whirring.

Oh my God! They haven’t taken the power off on a Sunday morning again?

That means one can’t redeem the Sunday morning gloom by playing music!

One can’t watch any of the previous night’s football matches!

Mercy!

Everything goes haywire in one’s mind. Is there enough fuel in the generator? How long will it last? If it finishes before the mains power comes back, how can we get fuel, no means of transport being readily available on a Sunday?

Somehow, the day drags along. The power outage lasts for 8 hours!

Eight-hour power cut without a previous warning? Eight-hour deprivation of the Internet; a re-ordering of cooking arrangements; etcetera etcetera?

Why didn’t “they” warn us in advance?

Why haven’t “they” bothered to give us any explanation?

Who are “they” anyway? Is it the GEC? 

Do they still distribute electricity? After the takeover fiasco?

Or is it the estate management (which is currently carrying out work in some parts of the estate and could conceivably need to cut off power whilst installing electricity in new houses?)

No answers. 

Perhaps that’s the most difficult aspect of life in Ghana in the 21st Century – the dearth of public information.

How could any public utility company be allowed to continue operating in London or Paris or perhaps, even Kigali, if it cuts services to its customers, without prior warning, and continues to do so for eight hours, without bothering to explain why it has done so? 

In an America, a class action suit would almost n be instituted against the company by a consumer group in the precinct where such an incident occurred!

Such a suit would be costly to the utility company, not only in cash terms but in terms of bad publicity. In America, competition among companies demands that a company should eschew arrogant unconcern regarding its attitude to performance. Otherwise, its name would be noted by consumer groups and whenever it attempted to do business, people would try and expose its past misdeeds. 

Here, even if there were consumer groups, what could they do? All one would hear would be that Company A had been deprived of its contract and that Company B had been given it. By Ministerial fiat.

At best, Parliament would discuss the issue and the MPs would make a pronouncement on it. But this could be influenced by lobbying. We wouldn’t know. 

As for “public hearings” at which concerned groups would testify, do they even exist? Occasionally, we hear of “stakeholders’” being invited to meetings. But, again, what are the effects of lobbying on such encounters? 

I hope that during the reorganisation of the executive that is sure to take place in the light of the unprecedented situation we’ve got in Parliament, the President will create a vigorous Ministry of Consumer Affairs headed by an energetic and “busybody” type of Minister, who would not spare any entity that sells the public short.

British Airways wants to dump Ghanaian passengers in Gatwick because Ghana is a seller’s market in terms of air travel? Let the Minister of Consumer Affairs kick ass, in collaboration with our Aviation authorities, and sort out the issue. 

Is any other issue worrying any citizen? Tell it to the Minister of Consumer Affairs. 

The gloom of Sunday morning is not relieved by the need to acknowledge the passing of some excellent people, whom one has been privileged to know.

One of these was Opanin Patrick Yaw OBENG-FOSU, who would have attained the age of 90 years in August next year.

Born at Asiakwa, in Akyem Abuakwa, Obeng-Fosu was educated at the Presbyterian Primary School Kukurantumi, Koforidua Presbyterian Primary School and Asiakwa Presbyterian Junior School. 

During his early school years, an attack of rheumatism forced him to endure six months in hospital, during which an operation was carried out on his knee. 

An individual with less determination would have said goodbye to schooling, since the vicissitudes of life obliged him to walk long distances from village school to village school. But he managed to continue and reache the senior school stage, which, again, took him from Kwabeng, to Osino and then back to Asiakwa! He obtained his Standard Seven Certificate in 1948.

Next, he enrolled at Abuakwa State College, Kyebi, in 1951 and later changed to Prempeh College, Kumasi. He left Prempeh in 1954 with the prized Cambridge School Certificate in 1954. 

He worked in the civil service, at the Public Works Department, the General Post Office and finally, at the Labour Department, where he spent the rest of his working life. 

He authored a book entitled “Industrial Relations in Ghana – The Law and Practice” which waspublished by the Ghana Universities Press in 1991. He has also edited a book on the Settlement of Industrial/Labour Disputes”.

Obeng-Fosu was the National Consultant on ILO/Norway project on the Promotion of Sound labour relations in Ghana”. He also lectured in Industrial Relations and Collective bargaining at GIMPA, and seminars organised by Ghana Employers’ Association and Trade Unions. 

He was a member of Ghana Government delegations to several International Labour Conferences held abroad. 

Opanin Obeng-Fosu retired from the Civil Service on 18 August, 1994, having attained the rank of Chief Labour Officer two years earlier. 

Throughout his life, Opanin Obeng-Fosu maintained a great interest in world affairs and was a shrewd conversationalist. I used to meet him at lectures organised at Asiakwa by the University of Ghana’s Extra-Mural Studies Department, through the People’s Educational Association. He impressed everyone with his brilliance and friendliness. May he rest in peace. My condolences go to all the members of his family.

BY CAMERON DUODU

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