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Regional News of Wednesday, 27 May 2015


I deserve Africa's Best Mayor Award - Vanderpuije

Metropolitan Chief Executive for Accra, Dr. Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, has defended his recognition at the African Mayor Awards ceremony, explaining that he did not apply for the award.

Some Ghanaians have criticized the award suggesting the city of Accra has seen little or no improvement under the Mayor's leadership.

The Mayor won the inaugural edition of the prestigious President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos African Mayor Awards, held in Luanda, Angola as part of the 2nd Africa Urban Infrastructure Investment Forum.

The event, which took place on Thursday April 30, 2015 at the Talatona Convention Centre (CCTA), saw Accra emerge as the winner in the Large Cities category with contenders including Cape Town in South Africa and Dakar in Senegal.

The award included a trophy designed by a distinguished Angolan artist, a certificate and a cash prize of 200,000 dollars.

Speaking in an interview with Nana Aba Anamoah on TV3's New Day, the Mayor said he did not find it surprising that some Ghanaians would criticize his award as undeserved.

He however noted that the city of Accra has seen some vital progress particularly in the areas of sanitation and education, and asked that the citizenry acknowledges the progress made.

That notwithstanding, he admitted a lot more needed to be done going forward.

"In life, we have freedom of opinion and democracy respects that but one has to take cognizance of the fact that this award was not instituted by Ghana or the AMA but by reputable institutions headed by level-headed professional people. Accra or Oko Vanderpuije did not even apply. It was NALAG that nominated AMA, then I received a call from London from the publishers who put all this together. They demanded some documents about what we've been doing to be sent to them. Over a period of months, they visited Ghana to do their checks. They stated that the award was to be given to a Mayor who had done something extraordinary. We presented our focus areas as they demanded. My seven focus areas are sanitation, education, community upgrading, transportation, economic empowerment and beautification".

"When one looks at these areas, as much as we like to play our city down, you will come to appreciate Accra when you travel to other African cities. Accra generates 3,000 tonnes of waste on a daily basis and when I came to office we had a lot of mountainous garbage in some places but today we've dealt with all that. Cholera is an environmental issue and one day we will eliminate cholera. I am not the Minister for Health but the Mayor of Accra. What creates cholera is liquid waste but today a lot has been done. For instance the Lavinda Hill area had been a nuisance for almost ninety years before I came; but now we have reduced the number of trucks that go there to dispose waste into the ocean by one third and by end of October we will eliminate Lavinda Hill. Korle Lagoon still remains due to lack of funding, but we will deal with it" he stated.

On the by-law that instructs every home in the capital to have a toilet facility, the Mayor mentioned that some 8,000 homes have been prosecuted for not building toilets, compelling them to construct such facilities.

"We are prosecuting and enforcing the bye-law on daily basis" he noted.

The Mayor also spoke about other efforts being made in the treatment of liquid waste.

"We have built a liquid waste treatment center at East Legon in Accra which is treating the waste for some of the tertiary institutions in that enclave. When you go to Dansoman today and we are laying sewage lines down to Cantonment and Accra Central and the rest".

Dr. Vanderpuije said the city had also done a lot to reduce the effects of flooding by demolishing several structures in areas such as Dansoman, building drains and expanding road infrastructure.

In education, the Mayor boasted about the elimination of the shift system in most basic schools as well as the millennium schools project which he said had benefited about 100,000 children.

On issues of street hawking and congestion at the markets, the Mayor said strenuous efforts were being made to clear the streets of the nuisance. He also hinted that some thirteen markets were going to be renovated into modern standards to reduce congestion and also clear traders on the streets.