Article 34 (1) of the Constitution, 1992 prescribes that:
The Directive Principles of State Policy contained in this Chapter shall guide all citizens, Parliament, the President, the Judiciary, the Council of State, the Cabinet, political parties and other bodies and persons in applying or interpreting this Constitution or any other law and in taking and implementing any policy decisions, for the establishment of a just and free society.
Within the spirit of this Declaration, Article 41 of the Constitution says…it shall be the duty of every citizen-
(k) to protect and safeguard the environment.
Although “environment” is not defined in the law, we must understand it ordinarily to mean the space that we inhabit and the contents of that space. So that if, at home, you create filthy surroundings, your environment is thus disorderly and unhealthy.
In this article, we shall apply the law in relation to the conduct of the Ghana Police as regards accident vehicles, and seizures of a motley of things- exhibits, they call them- and conclude that the recovery of wrecked and accident vehicles by the Ghana Police, and retention of same and other physicals on their premises constitute an environmental nuisance contrary to Art 41 (k) of the Constitution.
On the occurrence of a motor accident, the Motor Traffic & Transport Division (MTTD) of the Ghana Police takes details of the accident to determine who or what caused the accident. After that, a Report is prepared and a docket opened for prosecution, where necessary. What happens to the accident vehicles?
The Ghana police tow the accident vehicles to the police station. In other jurisdictions, the accident vehicles are towed to either a stripping yard, or the owners tow away their own vehicles to wherever.In some instances too, the Police abandon the accident vehicles by the wayside on the highways. Apart from wrecked vehicles, the Ghana police also seize a motleyof things, like motor bikes, stolen items, and so on, and these are all kept at the police station.
This anomalous practice has turned MTTDsand most police stations throughout the country into dumping grounds of wrecked vehicles and damaged motor bikes, making it akin to Kokompe, thereby adding to the environmental nuisance that is currently plaguing the nation. It is also obscene to see burnt-out or severely damaged vehicles abandoned on the highway.
The pictures in this article are examples of the environmental disorder prevalent at police stations.
The solutions that come to mind are these:
1. Accident vehicles should be towed away by the owners of the vehicles and, if the owners are not available, the insurance firm should be made to tow them away, or the Police could tow them away and surcharge the insurance company with the cost. They would have to engage the Insurance Commission on this matter.
2. The Police could invite owners of accident vehicles, publicly, and also in the newspapers, to come for their vehicles within a stipulated time, after which the Police shall exercise their right to dispose of them, and the money kept by the Police.
3. Abandoned, accident wreckages along the highways must all be towed away.
4. Where items are to be used as exhibits, then they must hasten prosecution of the case, and get rid of the items as soon as practicable.At the Nima Police Station, several motor bikes have been seized and kept on the premises. It is so unsightly!
Most police stations look unkempt because the environment is full of discarded, damaged, stolen and abandoned items.And the cells smell horribly! These do not builda good image for the police.
The honorable Inspector-General of Police is respectfully invited to address the matter promptly and inform the public therewith.
The Hon Attorney-General and Minister of Justice must please advise the Minister of Interior and the IGP accordingly, because the Police are flouting the Constitution.