Sydney Abugri Writing and Editing Services

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Jomo, have I told you how I once staged a one-man demonstration in a supermarket in Accra? I had bought some items and gone to pay for them. There were four sales cashiers’ tables equipped with computers to facilitate the fast calculation of purchases. 

Save for one of the tables which was (wo) manned by a young lady, the rest of the payment points had been abandoned and a thousand kilometre-long queue had formed in front of the lone cashier. 

Upfront in the queue, was this portly fellow who had purchased nearly half the stock of goods in the place and loaded them up into a trolley the size of a cargo ship. 

It was apparent that the others in the queue were going to spend a couple of centuries standing in the queue: When was the salesgirl going to be done with calculating this shopper’s bill and move on to the next person in the queue? 

I noticed an elderly man standing in the rear of the queue clutching two loaves of bread. Ghana! Why should anyone but especially a senior citizen, spend an eternity in a queue just to pay for two loaves of bread? 

I said to myself: "I know what to do." I went and took up a position beside one of the abandoned tables and tried to look as very conspicuous as possible. I knew that sooner or later, someone was going to come along and check me out, for there beside the computer sitting on the table was a tray full of cash. Plenty cash. 

For a few moments nothing happened, so I fished out my sunglasses, put them on and looked around scowling and grimacing like an armed robber surveying the place for a hit. In no time, a salesgirl who had been busy checking items elsewhere and who must have been watching me came over quickly. 

“Yes, daddy…?” and slips very quickly into the cashier’s chair. In a matter of seconds, I had finished the transaction.

Not every pensioner is able to pull off a prank like that when left standing in a queue for millenniums on end. It is not exactly a dog’s life, but from protesting muscles and creaking joints through very annoying flashes of memory loss to agonizing and nightmarish hours in queues, the life of the aged can be pretty tough and urgent relief is what is needed.

Sometimes pensioners stand in one hundred kilometre long queues at banks, supermarkets bus stops, until they are quite literally falling off their feet without anyone seeming to notice or care. You will sometimes find muscular young people shoving old men and women aside and sometimes onto the ground, in the usual struggle to board buses.

Sometimes when I see elderly people standing in long queues for millenniums to access a public service,  I wonder why someone whose sweat and toil built the republic should be so treated.

That is why long before I heard about the Eban card, I had insisted that on retirement from public service, pensioners should carry a special ID and whip it out like a sesame talisman to access priority status service when they have to queue up for medicines, bus tickets, bus seats, and bank payments.

The Eban card was launched not long ago at Opera Square in Acccra and media photographs from the launch showed elderly women brandishing the almighty Eban card in celebration of their good fortune. As for me and Jack Kwame Okito, we are yet to set eyes on the elusive magic card.

When some citizens don’t know where to turn for official intervention in a matter affecting their welfare, they call on the President to intervene: Mr President, please order all public service providers to have separate queues for pensioners. But before then, let the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection {talk about a mouthful} collaborate with the Social Security and National Insurance Scheme in the issuance of every pensioner in the country with the sesame card and make sure it is honoured. Amen.