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Opinions of Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Columnist: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

Bridge Over Denya Lagoon In Elmina Closed.

All credit to a lady who left a comment on a recent opinion article I wrote. I will not mention her name since I do not have her permission to publish her name. Her comment led me to a past report that I missed in the news. The report said that Elmina Bridge has been closed since April 2013.

I very recently watched in wonder as a bridge in Florida, I believe, was moved a few feet to detour traffic while a new bridge is constructed at where they are moving this old bridge from. It brought back to mind a disappointment that I had had in 2009 when I saw a road construction in progress somewhere along the Achimota area. There were oriental looking men involved in the construction and I assumed that they were Chinese. At the time, I commented that if that was how they did road construction in China, then shame on them. If on the other hand they were doing it that way because they were doing it for an African country, then shame on our government.

In 2009, I saw that the bridge over Fosu Lagoon in Cape Coast had fallen in. At that time, I learnt that the bridge fell in soon after it was constructed. The original bridge, left from our colonial days, remained very viable all through the time that I grew up in Cape Coast that I never dreamt that a bridge could fall in while I lived there. A new bridge would probably not have been necessary if we had done regular maintenance because we do not have the severe swing in whether that affects roads and bridges so severely. After all, we continue to have mud houses from our colonial past that are still around; why not have a concrete bridge survive? Yes I know that many mud houses have caved in too.

If the bridge at Elmina is so unsafe that it had to be closed without an alternative, it should tell us that somebody neglected to do his or her work. You shore up a dangerous bridge and quickly work on constructing a new one to replace it before you take the unsafe one out of commission. From the comment to my article, I gathered that the bridge continues to be open to pedestrian traffic and people carting heavy loads are falling in and hurting others. Why should this be?

Let me say that I am not trying to say that we in Ghana should be as sophisticated as to move bridges and such, but we should be on the ball and do some of the little things that we can learn from elsewhere like maintaining the little that we have just as we can learn that elsewhere people have to pay for health insurance so we must pay for health insurance or that people have free high school education and so we must have free SHS.

I am not always looking to criticize, but no one made these people politicians. They put themselves out and asked us to elect them to solve our problems. By any measure, they are doing a very poor job at solving the problems and it is up to us to put their feet to the fire rather than resort to partisan attacks and give them a pass, and so I do not hesitate to criticize when criticism is due. I have sung the praises when it was due too. You may refer to my past article titled, "Thank you Mr. President."

We have people like the Central Regional Minister, I believe his name is Sarpong, who are going around physically assaulting grown men in an effort to get them to do what they want them to do because they think they have the power and turn around and call themselves disciplinarians. Why don't these people discipline themselves first: enough to do the work that they were put there to do; like maintaining what exists today?

Tony Pobee-Mensah

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