In the years gone by the biggest market we had in Ghana was the Asesewa market. As the years rolled by the Mankessim market overtook the Asesewa market leaving behind nostalgia for the people of Asesewa. In those days, the commonest birds you could see at the Mankessim market were vultures because of the large quantities of meat and fish sold at the market.
Today, Techiman in the Bono East Region is not only the biggest market in Ghana but also the market nerve center of the West Africa Sub-region. Initially when the Coronavirus broke out it did not occur to me that the disease will be a threat to the people of Techiman and those who patronize the market. From Wednesdays to Fridays, traders from all over the country troop to the Techiman market to buy or sell.
It was when the President ordered for the partial lockdown of some towns and cities that I realized how serious the situation is. So far measures put in place to confront the novel virus are very impressive but when you are fighting an invisible enemy, you have to use defense as a weapon. The media is doing a yeoman’s job through the persistent campaign and information given to the people of Ghana about the risks involved in the invasion of the virus. With the proliferation of the airways and the number of portable radio sets in the hands of almost everybody I want to believe that every Ghanaian knows something about the dangerous virus and that is good.
What prompted me to write this piece is how dangerous the people of Techiman are exposed to the virus in view of the fact that the Techiman market is always crowded. What is most disturbing is that, traders from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger, Mali and indeed all countries in the sub-region come to Techiman to buy and sell. And these are countries which have also recorded Coronavirus but they are in a disadvantageous position to confront the menace. The Ansar Deen, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other Jihadists are operating in these countries. Some places are no-go areas for the government officials not to talk of soldiers. The people in these terrorists controlled areas have subdued the people so much that if any of them catches the virus, it will spread like wild bush fire. Undoubtedly the terrorists themselves may be carrying the virus since they fought in other countries before running away to continue their terror activities in these countries. These are poor and landlocked countries who have no means to confront the virus like the way Ghana is doing.
Poverty stocks the land and people cannot get three square meals a day not to talk of getting money to buy hand sanitizers. Water is so scary in these countries that it has become a human right issue. You don’t expect such persons to wash their hands regularly because they even find it difficult to get water from wells to drink not to talk of running water to wash their hands regularly.
Have you ever visited Gonokrom near Dormaa Ahenkro in the Ahafo Region? Go there and see. Even though we have an immigration post, anytime you visit there you can see officers dozing off and others idling away. The reason is that the border town is so porous that you don’t need to pass through the main border post to enter Dormaa on your way to Techiman. Some Ivorian farmers have their farms located in the Dormaa Area while some Ghanaian farmers too have their farms located in Ivory Coast.
The last time I visited Gonokrom last week, I was so scared that when I saw anyone from Ivory Coast I keep my distance and won’t even touch the person with a long stick. What is most disturbing is that they have their landlords in Gonokrom and Dormaa so anytime they visit the places they lodge with these landlords. There are no medical staff with the requisite instruments to test even Ghanaians, not to talk of the illegal visitors who came through an unapproved routes. What I have just narrated happens in Kofi Badu krom in the same area. In the case of Kofi Badu krom, there is a large market which is patronized by both Ivoirians and Ghanaians. During market days people have no option but to walk along “bumper to bumper’ so no social distancing.
The government must order the soldiers at the 3rd Battalion of Infantry at Sunyani to move to these areas and make sure foreigners don’t enter our country through unapproved routes. Anyone caught should be quarantined and later deported to their country to seek for cure. This not the time for niceties or diplomacy. We are at war and as Adolf Hitler said ‘in time of war, everything is fair’
So Ghanaians are asking: How do we fight and win this invisible enemy? The best weapon is to aggressively confront the virus with all our resources and vigor. Since there is no cure and any vaccine yet, Ghanaians must abide by the pieces of advice offered by our medical doctors, like washing our hands with soap and running water regularly, use hand sanitizers to rub our hands and cover our noses while sneezing among others. That is why the sages say prevention is better than cure.
If you can get money to buy two bottles of beer a day but can’t buy a hand sanitizer you are either a fool or a possible “suicide candidate.” In fact if you tell me that you cannot get money to buy a nose mask but you can get money to buy artificial nails for pedicure then there is madness in your stomach. If our medical doctors are asking us to practice social distancing and you chose the hug and embrace people, you either don’t values your life or that of others.
Today we the people of Ghana have been put on notice like other countries are fighting the coronavirus. We are not immune from this deadly virus. That is why I said we need to take defensive measures to protect our people.
To wait for the virus to spread before we take defensive measures is not courageous but suicidal. Excuse me while I use my hand sanitizer after typing this piece. Life is too short!
From Eric Bawah