The Accra Metropolitan Assembly has been on the warpath in recent times, forced to make a grandstand due to the cholera outbreak that has swept through the capital and most parts of the country.
One of the recent initiatives meant to battle the outbreak is a surprise inspection of food vendors within the metropolis, an initiative that has so far yielded some disgusting results; proving that we are not as safe as we would like to feel within our own capital.
What bugs me is that this is a problem we are all too familiar with. We go through our lives doing the minimum possible we can get away with, waiting for the inevitable outbreak of a disaster to force us to do what we should have been doing all along.
That is what the AMA has been doing with this recent clampdown on food vendors. The surprise inspection has spanned chop bars, restaurants, and is meant to tackle wayside vendors as well.
Aside the fact that these routine checks should be the status quo and not a panic measure when an epidemic sweeps over the country, the results gleaned so far should put the fear of God in any Ghanaian who patronises any food establishment outside their own homes.
You might say it’s not any surprise, Accra after all is engulfed in filth wherever you look, and people sell adjacent to gutters without any scruples. But whilst you would expect this kind of tactics from small time food vendors and the chop bars, the fact that restaurants, some of whom have huge reputations have fallen foul of the standards is a frightening thought.
The most recent inspection led to the revelation of substandard safety practices at Dynasty, a Chinese restaurant in Osu. Pictures circulating of the state of their kitchen are enough to churn the stomach.
Frankies, a hugely popular joint also at Osu, received a caution of lesser gravity. One would wonder that if these establishments, amongst the crème of the fast food industry in the country, are operating under these suspect conditions; where exactly is safe in this country.
These are huge establishments with significant patronage, and it’s appalling that such a situation would be allowed to develop. Worse is that establishments of that size and clout would require a certain licensing procedure to operate, but it seems nobody enforces those standards at all.
Once again it seems we are only interested in being reactive and not proactive. This exercise by the AMA should be the norm, but we need a cholera epidemic to kill hundreds of people before paid public officials see the need to do their job.
The AMA are making a big fuss right now, and whilst a little commendable you cannot escape a certain feeling of trepidation. After the cholera epidemic blows over are we going to settle back into our routine of looking the other way?
If we do, we would be back to square one in a few years, battling another epidemic as the Assembly embarks on another reactionary PR gimmick.