My mother always says that a lady must carry a cloth or a wrapper in her handbag at all times. Her reason is simple, if there is an emergency (your period, accident, torn dress, etc), you use the cloth or a wrapper as a backup. Makes sense, doesn’t it? You would think I would adhere to this piece of advice, but hell no, I don’t.
Well sometimes I do, especially when I go home, even if I don’t, she makes sure to keep one in my handbag before I step out of the house. It was one of such occasions that I found myself in a fix and the cloth became very useful to me. She had insisted I carry a cloth, I complained about how carrying a cloth around is so old fashioned and no longer necessary, she eventually won and I left home with a cloth in my bag.
When I got to my destination, the venue was packed with a lot of people and the entrance was almost blocked. I walked through the crowd and entered the building. Luckily for me, someone had a call and immediately he left the seat he was occupying, I replaced him, glad that I sat close to the direction of the AC. Not only was I lucky to enter the building but I also had a seat close to the AC. It wasn’t a very comfortable seat but it was better than standing, there were very limited seats for the people. As soon as I sat down, I surveyed the environment. There were mostly men and women struggling to go through the narrow entrance of the office we were all trying to get access to. From my judgment, it
wasn’t a good time to try to go through so I decided to sit for a while and strategize on how to get through. While waiting I took a book out of my bag, crossed my right leg on my left, and started reading. About 15 minutes later, one of the officials came out and asked all of us to leave the building. We were a nuisance, making a lot of noise, pushing each other and petty quarrels here amidst the heat made it difficult for them to concentrate and do what they were supposed to do.
Everyone started walking out of the building but I decided to stay because I have been calm and reading my book quietly. But he insisted that we all leave, so I obeyed. When we had all left, he came out to say no one should stand at the entrance, and the only available shade was that provided by the wooden structure erected as a car park. No chairs, nothing to sit on, I went to stand in front of one of the pickups so that I could lean on it. Sooner than later the driver came out to excuse me and the other people who were leaning on the car for support, he had an Errand to run. All the other cars by then were occupied by some other people who needed support. After standing for about an hour, I got tired and wanted to sit but there were no seats available. It was then that I remembered that I had a
cloth in my bag, I took it out, spread it on the floor and sat on it! Yes, I sat on the floor and I was very comfortable, half a loaf they say is better than none. At least I had some shade to sit under. Some people sat on their motorbikes others on the floor like I did but the majority were standing. Guess what we were looking for at that building? GHANA CARD!
You cannot blame the officials or the people seeking the cards. To the officials, we were not following their instructions, we could not keep quiet, we were quarreling and pushing one another. To us, they were slow, inconsiderate, not following the queue and we were uncomfortable standing under the sun. They were trying to do their job, we were also trying to register for our cards
Since the telecommunication companies started announcing that all sim cards must be registered with the Ghana card by March 2022, there has been a rush for the registration of the Ghana card. The Ghana Card is a national identity card that is issued by the Ghanaian authorities to Ghanaian
citizens – both resident and non-resident, and legally and permanently resident foreign nationals. It is proof of identity, citizenship, and residence of the holder. The current version is in ID1 format and biometric (en.m.wikipedia.org). You, first of all, provide your biodata (name, date of birth, type of job, languages spoken, names of parents, hometown, digital address among other things) after which a biometric machine is used to capture your face and fingerprints. According to the National Identification Authority (NIA), the body responsible for this exercise, the cards are supposed to be issued instantly, so as soon as you provide all the necessary data and verify that everything is correct, your card is printed and handed over to you. Easy as it sounds, that is not the reality on the ground, people registered as far back as 2019 but have still not gotten their cards. It is either the machines are faulty, the network is unstable, or one problem or the other. I did my registration in October 2021, I was told they were reshuffling and I wouldn’t get my card immediately so I traveled, went back in December, and finally had my card in January 2022.
Meanwhile, I was always visiting the office just to pick up, we joined queues that never moved till evening, went home, and came again the next day to go through the same routine. I met a friend who also came to pick up her card which she registered for in 2019, fortunately, she knew some of the people in the NIA office so they helped us to get our cards. Even with the assistance, it took us three days to get the cards, three days of going to their office and spending the whole day there.
This is just one of many experiences that people go through at the various Ghana card offices. Most of the people would complain bitterly about how they wake up at dawn to come and queue but have never set foot inside the building. I remember someone hit my abdomen during one of the days when we were all struggling. There were times people would come without nose masks, for all the days that I was at the venue, the NIA officials would enforce the ‘no mask no entry’ policy but what about those who were struggling outside too?
The most interesting part is that after going through this stress to get the card, you are not done, you have to go and queue at the telcos to link your sim card to your Ghana card. For me, I didn’t have to queue when I went to link my Vodafone sim cards because I knew people who work there, so I didn’t have to queue. But as for MTN, I haven’t been able to, their network is either down or the person I know is out of town.
Can there be a way to decentralize the Ghana card collection? So that people don’t have to go to one location to pick up? Maybe the telcos should also consider extending the March deadline just like SSNIT did so that people can register comfortably and conveniently. But the question everyone is asking which we haven’t received any answers to is if the NIA has captured all the data during the registration, can’t the telcos pick that data and synchronize it with what they have? Or better still, they can make it simple like what SSNIT is doing, you just register on your phone, if there are special
cases that require special assistance, then those people can visit the offices to rectify the issue.
One of the women who were in the queue said ‘the government and his people will just get up and ask us to do something, they don’t know the stress we go through to do the thing because they will sit in their offices and these people will carry these machines there to register them. As for the rest of us, whichever way we find to do it, they do not care.’ And a lot of people agreed with her. There were times the officials would come and shout at us and even push us away, say and do all kinds of inhumane things. If you decide you don’t want to be treated this way and go to sit quietly in the corner, forget about your Ghana card. For the first time in my life, I saw the survival of the fittest in action.
If you haven’t registered for your Ghana card yet, just prepare for some of these inconveniences. If you have registered and picked up yours but haven’t registered your sim cards yet, know that a similar struggle awaits you. But if you have gone through all of these successfully, congratulations, in ten years when the card is due to expire, I hope we don’t go through so much stress to have them renewed. CHEERS!!!