Street Begging has become one of the major social issues in almost all big cities in Africa, In Ghana, there is a law which states that any person found begging, wondering and placing himself in any premises or place for the purpose of begging may be arrested by the police without warrant and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not more than 50 Ghana Cedis or imprisonment of not more than 3months or even both.
However, that did not stop the increase of street beggars across major roads situated in the heart of the country including the ceremonial routes, bridges, streets that includes; East Legon-Shiashie, the main Tetteh Quarshie-Madina, Dansoman Highway, 37 Military Hospital Bus Stop, Abeka Lapaz, Circle Odowna, the Ring Road, Paloma along Kaneshie road among others.
Even though giving alms to the needy is a kind gesture, some residents of Ghana have shown their concerns over the rapid influx of beggars into Ghana.
Hajiya Suwaiba Salisu a resident of Accra said it is disheartening to see these beggars because most of them are physically fit.
“They even act like they want to collect alms by force. If you tell them that you don’t have money to give them and plead with them to go, some of them will act as if they want to fight you, how does one keep giving beggars money when they have such attitude? They should all be sent back to their countries’’, She added angrily.
Muhammad Rabiu Hamisu Bako a resident of Sabon Zango in Accra said the beggars are living in a sympathetic manner as most of them are foreigners without families in Ghana.
“You will see them sleeping on the streets, I am a witness to some who even got kicked by a vehicle and there was no one there to help them. It is sad to see these beggars, some with their children and they get involved in lots of accidents where some of them even lose their lives’’.
“Government should do something about this because they come in through the boarders almost every day so, government should do something about it”, He added.
Ta Gimba, a mother of 5 who is a beggar along Ring Road said she left her country Niger to come to Ghana to beg. According to her, she lost her husband few years ago and since then things have not been easy for her.
“I came here with 3 of my children because it is easier for people to help me when they see my children and it will be easier for me to feed them too. I came to here because I heard that beggars get a lot of money in Ghana’’.
“But now I feel disappointed, there is no money. I spent more than 6 days on the road and spent all my money on the boarders because you have to pay your way in at every stop on the boarder. Now I want to go back home, I regret coming here” she added.
Over the years lots of people are of the view that some of these beggars are being trafficked into the country and housed in Sabon Zango community a suburb of Accra.
However, the chief of Sabon Zango, Alhaji Hamisu Bako refuted this allegation in an interview saying, there are certain People with Disabilities living in the Zango community and it is not fair to categorize them as street beggars.
“There are beggars everywhere, it is untrue to say that Sabon Zongo is the community housing these beggars.The ones here have been living in this Zongo since time immemorial. Some of them are blind, some are deaf, some are crippled and lots of them have one or two things doing that is fetching them money for their upkeep. Though some of them beg, but it is because they do not have any other choice.’’
“As for the ones going round with kids, sleeping on the streets, disturbing the peace and cleanliness of Ghana, the government should find a place to keep them or get their ambassadors to take them back to their countries. Most of them are from Niger, some from Nigeria and other countries. They should be taken back” he added.
Sheikh Abdulrahman Tawfiq Kalusey a renowned Islamic cleric from Kumasi, said Islam is a comprehensive religion that has an explanation and a way forward to every societal issue including the menace of street begging.
“Begging as a commercial activity is not allowed in Islam, but it is permissible for those who have lost everything they have ever owned in a fire accident or any natural disaster to beg so as to stand back on their feet.”
“But the form of begging we see today in our society is not allowed’’.
Meanwhile a pastor from Kwabenya, Felix Nze, intimated that begging in Christianity is not forbidden but it is not something good enough to be allowed especially if it is becoming a disturbing issue in the society.
This report shown that a large number of the beggars are from Niger and Ghanaians have shown that they do not want them. What should be done to bring an end to street begging in Ghana? That’s is a question for us to discuss another time.
Filed By Maryam Muhammad Bawa