Feature Article of Friday, 18 January 2013
Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku
By Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (voice of Reason)
HOPEFULLY, THIS MAIL WILL FIND YOU IN GOOD SPIRIT.
Yes, I did promise to come back after your honeymoon.However, I’m not going to disturb you with too many issues right now because there are other pressing matters that can’t wait for another four years. The needs and aspirations of your people must be met---necessarily. For the sake of time and your tight schedules I’m going to tackle just one issue right now.
I am a realist–in the most realistic sense of the word. I appreciate the fact that this is not—and never has been and never will be—the best of times in Ghana. The concept that any status quo is perfect and permanent,and that one must under no circumstances raise questions, give suggestions, voice doubts or seek improvement can only produce complacency. It does no one any good to pretend there is never anything wrong anywhere in our system or society. Therefore there is no need to strive for perfection. In other words, in a free society like ours anything that in any way affects the lives or the welfare of the public at large should never be precluded from continuing critical scrutiny, examination and criticism.
By the way, how come under the Ministry of Road and Highways we have four departments and our roads are death traps and we have self-appointed ‘potholes contractors’ on our roads?
How does this grab you? We have Ghana Highways Authority, in charge of the truck roads. We have the Department of Feeder Roads, Department of Urban Roads and Ghana Road Fund Secretariat, in charge of the day to day management of the Road fund—Halba!
I’m sure you did see the deplorable condition of our road network during your campaign and I think it’s one area that can’t wait for four more years….The following are my suggestions:
1. Road Building Commission (ROBCO) should be formed within one hundred days of your administration, to administer the Road Fund. It will see to it that all road contracts are fairly completed by all interested qualified and registered contractors. It will also see to it that contracted roads are completed on schedule to the specified standard-----shoddy work and unjustifiable delays are punishable by fine. Please no more road contract for the “boys”
2. A real, accountable, usable, humane ROAD FUND should be established and all road toll proceeds should go into it and every pesewa should be accounted for in Commission’s financial reports...
3. Road building should be privatized .In other words, Individuals and businesses should be encouraged to build roads and collect tolls for specific amount of years to offset their costs.And after that they should get some percentage of the revenue forever.
4. Every major tarred road within 15miles or more should have an electronic toll; with the proceeds going into the road fund.
5. We can also get revenue for the Road Fund from the following sources:
a) Import duties on vehicles and vehicles’ registration fees.
b) Insurance surcharges from poor and accident prone drivers.
c) The foreign vehicles that are using our roads are taking advantage of our lax insurance laws. Therefore they should contribute to our road building. The drivers of these vehicles coming from our neighboring countries will be asked to buy temporary auto liability insurance in Ghana for the time they want to spend in Ghana.That would not only safeguard our citizens and economy in case something happens while they are in Ghana, but would be a source of revenue for the Road Fund.
d) Road tax should be paid by every vehicle in the country.
Once we’re on road building, a new Road Maintenance Administration (ROMA) should be formed under Road Commission once we start to embark on road building. That will ensure that the roads last longer and maintained regularly.
Speaking of taxes, can your administration design a noble tax package system for Ghanaians in the Diaspora? They all know and appreciate the importance of taxes and what they do to improve life.They also know very well how Ghanaians’ taxes or revenues are being misused and mismanaged.However, they will pay their fair share of taxes if they’re assured that the revenue their taxes will generate will be accounted for and put into good use for the betterment of the nation.
One more thing before I go, Sir: In your inaugural address you mentioned that the “most important resources of Ghana is its people”. Therefore in my next mail I’d like to bring it up for discussion. How can we really develop the intellectual capital of Ghana? Sadly, the ecology of our system doesn’t offer any nutrients to nurture the intellectual resources of our people, both home and abroad because there is no comprehensive plan in place to do that. So far the so- called a plan to lure the Ghanaian professionals in the Diaspora home remains as a mere mouth work of our government and policy makers.
Amazingly, Israel has a plan to recruit every Jew from anywhere on this planet to move to Israel.It does so by giving very attractive resettlement incentives to entice the best brain to move to Israel and settle. But, in Ghana, the situation is different—way different. The problems start right from the arrival hall at Kotoka Airport till the day one checks out of the country. Nobody (including government officials) seems to care about the Ghanaians in the Diaspora---their skills, personal safety or brains.
On the arrival hall at the Airport, one can see the Customs officials fumbling and combing through visitors’ stuff as if they have dossiers on each of them marked as criminal. Does the government really have any record of what Ghanaians in Diaspora do and the skills they have? The point is when Ghanaians in the Diaspora move home they do so without any governmental influence, infusion or incentive. Therefore, when they move they do so at their own accord .Either they’re moving back home because they had enough or they need a rest from the hectic life in the West or the combination of the two. Is that the best way to harness Ghana’s intellectual resources?
By the way, I’d to make it clear that I hold no special brief for any particular ideology, party, group or school of thought which might want or seek to bring about changes of any kind in our manners, mores or institutions. I’m not a reformer, crusader, and social philosopher, political or economic theorist---tulfiakwa! However, I consider myself as a practical individual who has devoted his very life to guiding Ghana to a brighter future for this generation and beyond. Stay Tuned!
Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (Voice of Reason)
Note from the author:
This is the vision of the Ministry of Road and Highways: “To provide and maintain an integrated, cost-effective and sustainable road transport network responsive to the needs of users”. Go figure!!