Imagine a Judge in a Courtroom, who is confronted with the herculean task of presiding over a case while at the same time ensuring that drivers do not make noise with their cars to disrupt proceedings. This is the exact scene at the Mankranso District Magistrate Court located in the Ahafo Ano South District of the Ashanti Region.
The court, which operates from an open-space pavilion close to the town’s main bus terminal, is sandwiched by two busy high ways leading to and from the town with vehicles virtually driving past and tooting their horns whiles the court is in session.
Residents also go about their normal duties without any concern about the presence of a court of competent jurisdiction in the area.
Ultimate Radio’s Joseph Oppong Brenya, who visited the court, reports that at several points, noise-making by motorists and residents compel the court to halt proceedings while waiting for some quiet before resuming hearings.
Court officials, who would not speak on record, complained that operating in such a structure at the centre of town, is severely affecting their work.
According to them, they are unable to bring slippery criminals who could easily break jail to the court as there was enough space for them to escape. They disclosed that there had been an incident in the past where a suspected criminal jumped out of the dock during trial.
Recounting the distractions at the court to Ultimate Radio, a resident who works close to the court, said there had been several instances where commercial drivers who have appeared before the court for some offenses, deliberately drive close to the court blurring their horns just to distract proceedings.
“What some of these drivers do is that, anytime they get here, they either toot their horns or intentionally honk their engines creating loud unbearable noise here. Actually some of them have been arrested for distracting the courts.”
He told Ultimate Radio, there was once a judge by name Owusu Afriyie who “would always instruct the police to place benches along the road to block the lane nearest to the court room before he presided over any case there.”
When contacted, the Ahafo Ano South District Assembly admitted they were aware of the conditions at the court and were taking steps to address it. District Coordinating Director, Mohammed Yahaya told Ultimate Radio, relocating the court was the Assembly’s priority but admitted they were financially constrained in doing so.
He lamented “the observations are right and it has come up at the assembly level. It is a concern that the vehicles disturb over there and I am told sometimes they had to cause the arrest of a driver because the noise and distraction was too much”.
Mohammed Yahaya however indicated that the issue had already been discussed at their assembly meetings and the only option they were looking at is to relocate the Magistrate Court.