Beside the inconveniences caused by their presence, the activities of these lunatics and beggars also pose a public health threat as they openly defecate on the pavements and litter about.
The Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s (AMA) taskforce in May this year began a decongestion exercise which saw them remove traders who had turned the pavements into bazaars.
The campaign which was meant to present Accra as a beautiful city was then about to play host to the World Summit of Mayors in June, as a clean and organised city.
The exercise continued after the June 3 dual disasters of rain and fire in which several lives perished.
And since then the traders have not returned to the pavements.
Whiles the Metropolitan Chief Executive of AMA , Dr. Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, has received commendation from sections of the public for the decongestion programme which has resulted in the free flow of human and vehicular traffic in Accra CBD, Today’s checks showed that the positive gains of the exercise were fast being eroded by the presence of mad people.
These lunatics who faff about in the city without supervision by authorities attend to natures call on the pavements and around trees in the central business district of Accra.
The pavements and trees around the Public Works Department (PWD) particularly, Today observed, have become the preferred defecation spots for these mad people since there are no AMA guards in the vicinity.
Interestingly no such activity takes place in portions where the AMA had deployed its personnel to ensure traders do not return there to engage in buying and selling.
The activity of the mad people has turned the PWD pavements into a no-go area due to the unpleasant sight and stench that greet passersby, Today’s investigations further revealed.
The development compels people either heading to or from the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) area to Kimbu Secondary Technical School side to take a detour in order to avoid coming into direct contact with the mad people who have turned the zone into their resting place.
The situation also raises security concerns as a number of people have allegedly been attacked by mad people in the area.
That has brought into sharp focus the role of the Public Health Department of the AMA whose responsibility it is to ensure that mad people in the city are kept under control and removed from the streets.
Some 50 meters away from the PWD area, Today further observed that some lunatics had also found home under the trees in the road reservation in front of the Assembly Press building and the Novotel Hotel whiles the entire pavement along the National Theatre towards the FAO area had been taken over by beggars, mentally deranged and homeless people.
“This does not present a good image of the city at all,” a visibly distraught Nii Ayi Ayittey, a newspaper vendor, told Today last Friday.
City authorities over the years have been working towards positioning Accra as the preferred tourist and investment destination.
“However, its failure to deal with the issue such as the free movement of psychiatric patients and beggars in the city shows that the authorities have a lot more to do,” a civil servant, Mr. Yaw Asomaning, lamented.
Meanwhile, traders have said if they knew that the AMA was ejecting them and allow mad people to replace them, they would not have moved.
A tomato seller, Madam Yaa Bruwaah, lamented that though the authorities did the right thing evicting them from the pavements, “they shouldn’t have allowed mental patients to take over.”
In a telephone interview with Today, Director of Public Health Department for AMA, Dr. Simpson Anim Boateng, said the activities of the mental patients have come to the attention of the authorities which, according to him, is a matter of concern to them.
According to Dr. Anim Boateng, plans are far-advanced to remove all mad persons from the streets.
He disclosed that the AMA was currently renovating a ward at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital where it intends to house such mental patients roaming on the streets of Accra.
“It has come to our attention, but we are working on it. We have taken a ward at the Accra Mental Hospital which we are renovating, so that all such people will be moved there,” he revealed.
Dr. Anim Boateng also admitted that the presence of the mental patients and their activities pose a health danger to the public hence the decision to find a permanent place to keep them.
On the issue of the beggars, the director of Public Health Department said the AMA was in talks with the Department of Social Welfare to work out a plan to remove them from the streets.
According to him, several efforts made in the past to clear beggars from the streets had proved unsuccessful.
“You get them off the streets and the next day they are back,” he said.