Sunday, 25. February 2007

„They like bribes too much“

07-02-06I waited for five hours with Edwin at the CMB bus station (central Accra) until it was his turn for loading. In addition to the 21 passengers his Benz bus had to swallow a huge amount of commercial goods. Incredible how they managed to stow it all away. For taking people’s baggage Edwin could collect 85.000 Cedis extra. But 5.000 had to be left behind at the police checkpoint behind Accra. Preventing the policeman from stopping our vehicle and from discovering that we are overloaded, he was given a bribe: When approaching, the mate quickly slipped a note into the policeman’s hand. “Fast!”, a woman sitting behind the driver commented with some appreciation. Avoiding an inspection means avoiding a penalty – but means above all getting home earlier. The latter suits all travellers, in particular when travelling in the evening, in the dark.

Actually Edwin dislikes giving bribes, especially when he knows that his vehicle and papers are alright. Even in this case some of his driver colleagues pay at police checkpoints. For a quicker continuation of their journey. But ... [more]
kwame - 2007-11-06 11:55

... those who don’t freely give out some little money to the officer are regularly harassed – they might have to bring out the mandatory warning triangle or the first-aid kit. This is when Edwin likes to retort: Why carry a first-aid kit (though he always does) which is useless in case of a serious accident. And anyway, neither is he a doctor or a nurse.

Everybody knows that the practice of bribing, which is part of the daily road business, does not truly enhance road safety. Thanks to such payments the road checks are performed only in a poor way. Or, if a driver is still caught for a traffic offence, he can just bribe in order to avoid a court case. The stiffer court penalties which have recently been introduced are equally questionable: now policemen can demand even higher bribes from drivers for their case to be dropped. Paradoxically, too, some drivers claim that they are simply forced to overload their vehicles – to make up for the losses which they run at the police checks.

Experiencing the Accra-Kumasi Road (AKR):

An ethnographic project on roads, commercial driving and everyday travel in Ghana [more]

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