A news report recently indicated that a government Land Cruiser in the pool of the Ministry of Trade and Industry had gone missing.
The front page screaming headline was commensurate with the loss because after all, no vehicle can go missing from a transport pool of a government department without the knowledge of a public official. The need for a thorough investigation into the loss cannot be overlooked lest we have such loss of expensive government vehicles replicated in other departments.
An Accra-based private newspaper which trumpeted the story, quickly received the usual rejoinders which such stories elicit from entrapped public officials who seek to protect their jobs.
Much as the rejoinder did not dispute the loss, it sought to suggest that the vehicle did not go missing in June but rather on December 20, 2013.
Sounds interesting because whether the said vehicle went missing in June or December the issue is that a vehicle belonging to the state had gone missing because of someone’s negligence or even complicity.
To put it brusquely, the Land Cruiser has been stolen under circumstances only the Ministries Police and the transport officer of the ministry can tell us at this stage.
We are disappointed at the lame rejoinder and wonder whether those managing the transport department of the ministry were not negligent in their assignments.
We heard reliably that drivers in the ministry had been informed that they would be forfeiting portions of their salaries until the cost of the lost vehicle was defrayed. While we sympathise with the drivers, we wish they could brave the odds by pointing out what they know about the loss because those behind the loss might have directed a driver to drive the vehicle to a garage or elsewhere with a “keep your mouth shut” order.
At this time of job scarcity, we doubt if any driver with such information will be daring enough to disclose such details.
We can imagine the level of victimisation taking place already in the ministry because someone at the top has the feeling that it is a driver or a clerk whom he does not like who leaked the information to the media.
While we know that unearthing those behind the loss could be a Herculean task, we think that the committee probing or which investigated the loss as the rejoinder pointed out, can gather a lot of vital information if they assure drivers of confidentiality.
Those who raise their heads too high above the parapet are most likely going to lose their jobs and that cannot be tolerated at this time of a difficult Ghana.
The vehicle has still not been retrieved six months after it went missing, even when the minister had ordered an investigation, not forgetting the police intervention. Maybe like some judgment debts, it has gone forever.