The Municipal Chief Executive for the Mfantseman Municipal, Kenneth Essuman, has urged Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) not to be quick in prosecuting ‘vagrants’ and other poor citizens who violate the bye-laws of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs). This, according the MCE, is because there is a high level of ignorance about the various MMDA bye-laws that regulate affairs of citizens within their jurisdictions.
While acknowledging that some citizens intentionally violate the laws, Mr. Essuman noted that majority of offences are due to lack of education on the bye-laws. He noted that unemployment, lack of better alternatives to livelihoods, high divorce rates, poor parenting, streetism, corruption and over familiarity with political actors such as Members of Parliament, Chiefs and Ministers of State are some of the issues that contribute to ‘vagrancy’ within the MMDAs.
The MCE indicated that these factors have led to a situation where, in their quest for survival, citizens have sited their businesses without ‘business operating permits’, engage in hawking, sell by the streets, and engage in other activities in clear violation of the bye-laws. He therefore, warned that “if the Mfantsiman Municipal and other MMDAs were to strictly enforce the various bye-laws such as those on spatial planning and sanitation, among others, most people will be in prison.”
Mr. Essuman was speaking at a sensitization workshop on the bye-laws of the Mfantsiman Municipal on Tuesday, 27th July, 2021, in Saltpond. The workshop was organized by Crime Check Foundation (CCF), a crime prevention advocacy organization that uses Life in Prison Documentaries to sensitize the public to the dangers of crime. The program forms part of the implementation of CCF’s Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy project which is funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
Present at the event were members of Traditional Authorities, officials of the Mfantseman Municipal Assemblies, elected members of the Assembly mobilized from many communities within Saltpond and Mankessim, driver unions, hawkers, street vendors, driver associations, and Persons with Disability, among others.
CCF took the opportunity to screen a video on ‘conditions in the prisons for which reason citizens should avoid prison by obeying the laws, while the Municipal Assembly sensitized participants on relevant bye-laws which citizens should respect to avoid arrests, fines and imprisonment.
The MCE thanked CCF and OSIWA for the project because of its focus on improving citizens’ knowledge on the laws so they do not end up in prisons. He said the project would reduce poverty because it slows the rate at which citizens are arrested and fined various cash amounts, and the cash the pay for fines can be invested in their education and economic activities to reduce poverty.
About OSIWA: The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), established in 2000, is a grant-making and advocacy organization focused on equality, justice, democratic governance, human rights, and knowledge generation. It is part of the global network of Open Society Foundations spread across 37 countries around the world. He said the Assemblies outrageously fine these vagrants for committing petty offences.
Citizens’ Complaints: To report harassment and potential imprisonment under a local assembly bye-law, please contact or whatsApp: 0559544199 / 0507353539