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Dealing with false alarms

By Ghanaian Chronicle

On Thursday August 9th, this year the Ghana News Agency (GNA) carried a report that quoted the Ashanti Regional Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ghana Fire Service, Mr. Franklin Masiku, as saying that his outfit had recorded 35 false alarms in the Kumasi Metropolis this year alone. According to him 25 similar false alarms were recorded last year.

The report further quoted Masiku as saying the practice was affecting their budget since they always fuel vehicles to respond to such calls. Three weeks earlier the Tema region of the Fire Service had also expressed similar concern and called on the public to support them to combat the bad practice.

The Ghana National Fire Service was set up to play an important role of fire fighting across the length and breadth of this country therefore for unscrupulous Ghanaians to abuse the service as reported by the GNA must be condemned in no uncertain terms. The service as an institution being manned by human beings has its own limitations but that shouldn't give the right for people to misuse their service.

The Chronicle believes that the situation as it stands now is not a hopeless one. We as a country can find solution to it or nip the practice in the bud if we are bent on doing so. What readily comes to mind here is the various telecommunications companies we have in the country. They can definitely help us solve this bad habit if the government put the necessary pressure on them to do the right thing.

In developed world all mobile phones including even the fixed lines are registered with the relevant authorities. In fact the Scotland Yard Police in Britain was able to arrest one of the suspects in the recent attempted suicide bombing at one of their airports because of a telephone chip they found at the crime scene.

Unfortunately the situation is not the same in Ghana. Everybody can just go to any corner to buy mobile chip and start using it. Mr. Masiku in the interview with the GNA said the service had acquired caller identification machine to check the practice. This is a brilliant decision but The Chronicle will like to submit that until all phones were registered with the service providers with user's picture and other documents, the caller identification machine cannot help solve the problem. It is only when the phone number has been registered with relevant identification documents as mentioned above that the service providers can help trace the one who made the false alarm. The identification machine can identify the number but how do you trace to know the one using the number for the law to deal with him?

It is instructive to note that it is not only the Fire Service that is facing this problem. The armed robbers have been using the same tactics to outwit the police by calling to inform them about purported armed robbery cases just to shift the attention of the police for them to carry on with their diabolical plans of robbing their victims.

We are therefore calling on all the mobile phone providers including the fixed lines to, as a matter of urgency, ask their clients to register their phone numbers with particulars such as pictures, signatures, and relevant addresses. Those who fail to do so should have their numbers blocked until they come forward to register.

The Chronicle believes that if this is done, a solution would have been found to the problem once and for all.