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Opinions of Sunday, 28 October 2007

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

After The Ghana@50 And Can2008 Project Fiasco ....

After The Ghana@50 And Can 2008 Project Fiasco, Now We Need Proper Project Managers

In this country, almost everything is done at the last minute. For instance, the Ghana @ 50 celebrations could have been better than we had if planning for the activities had started earlier. So why did we to wait until June 2006 when the Ghana@50 Secretariat was created? We knew that we would be putting up some landmark structures like anniversary grounds which cannot be completed overnight but we waited until three months before the celebration before we started putting up most of these physical structures? As of now, construction is still ongoing in some cases under the guise of the celebration being a whole year’s event.

It has been more than five years since Ghana won the bid to hold the 2008 African Cup of Nations. In the bidding process we would have submitted to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) what we had to do before we could stage the tournament. These included infrastructural development like stadia, roads, hotel/hostel, security, training pitches, airports and aerodromes etc. All these proposals were submitted to the CAF and football body was convinced that we could deliver on time. Sadly enough we have atrophied the confidence that CAF had in us. Although CAF inspectors who came into the country last week said they were ‘satisfied’ with the preparations so far for the tournament we should not be happy. We must know that this is ‘diplomatic talk’. Seldom do we hear diplomats saying anything that would encounter the displeasure of their hosts. We are all familiar with this in Ghana. During the NDC regime, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) never said any unpleasant thing about the regime. However when the NDC left office, you and I are witness to the diatribe which comes from these same Bretton Woods Institutions. This kind of patronage largely fuels the mediocrity culture which now abounds so much.

We have not lived up to our promise to get things done on time. We knew that two new stadia ought to be built in Sekondi and Tamale plus the rehabilitation of the Kumasi and Accra stadia for the tournament. Construction works did not start early enough to warrant a natural progression of work of such manner. Building a stadium is not a like getting a make shift building for refugees to dwell in. Construction work like stadium which is to host ten of thousands of people needs to be planned and executed well and not rush through like what pertains now. Quite recently a bridge under construction collapsed in China killing workmen there. The bridge was said to have been deprived from natural hardening of the mortar and concrete works there.

We have not learnt any lessons from the Ghana @50 celebrations when most of the buildings meant to house the invited VIP guests could not be completed before 6th March. In the words of Soren Kierkegaard, ‘life is lived forward but understood backwards’ and for me, it is disheartening to see mistakes recurring time and again in this country.

Just last week, it was announced that the three aerodromes in Kumasi, Tamale and Takoradi were to be renovated at the cost of US $50 millions in readiness for the Ghana 2008 event. So why should work be ongoing on airports which we know would be carrying passengers and supporters for the tournament with barely three months to the tournament? Did we intentionally delay the renovation of the three airports to the last minute so as to bypass the normal procurement and tender procedures? I do not want to believe that that the answer to this question could be yes.

The Ministry of Aviation which has somehow a smaller mandate as compared to other sectors and should not have allowed this to happen. We are told by Hon Gloria Akuffo that ADB Siemens are installing temporary lights at huge amount. What is the essence of installing temporary lights when we could have placed permanent lights on the runway tarmac? And we call ourselves the Gateway to West Africa? I think we ought to be serious about the way we do things in this country. No serious minded businessman would do this by installing temporary fittings to be redone later all at tax payers’ expense.

We need paradigm shift. We seem to lack foresight. England would be hosting the 2012 Olympics game. Construction work has since started long ago as if the games would be held next year. It is not the issue of availability of money. It is vision and commitment which help achieve the best results.

Even as I write this piece, the training pitches which are meant for the tournament are still under construction. Should the whether pattern deviate from the normal route, can we get the training pitches ready for the tournament? What kind of project management is this?

And all this makes it look like we do not have any business, engineering or construction schools in Ghana. So what happened to Project Management in Ghana? The respected K. B. Asante in his column writes that he feels jittery when all eyes are looking on Ghana – because we have a penchant to disappoint. And we will do it again without winking an eye. So when can we have examples of projects which start and finish on time and within budget? Where are the managers?

It is time for a change. Let all those who responsible for planning national events realize that all eyes are watching and stop patting ourselves on the back for trivial achievements fueled by sinful indolence and combined with self indulging flatteries.

Appiah Kusi Adomako, Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, Kumasi

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