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Opinions of Monday, 13 December 2010

Columnist: Amon, Nii

Dodowa the capital city of Ghana

The capital city of Ghana, Accra, has become a no go area, so chocked up with many
activities and vehicular traffic due to poor and lack of proper planning. Engineers
and Planners who have been employed by the state to ensure that the city is properly
structured to international standards, have thrown their hands in despair not
knowing what to do to decongest the capital city, especially the business centre.
Most of these experts are "book engineers”, they sit in their various offices whilst
controlling things from afar. They must move out of their offices and get to the
ground to see what can be done to ameliorate the congestion situation in the capital
city. Wearing big coats and ties and receiving fat salaries at the end of the month
is hurting the state, or in other words damaging the national economy. They must put
their acts together for a better Ghana or a better capital city than what we are
witnessing now. Government and commercial activities
are conducted right from the capital, specifically the business centre making
things really difficult for commuters to the capital city, Accra.

In most countries, ministries and government agencies are never situated in the
commercial centre of the capital city because if you do that you are inviting
trouble for yourself. Massive vehicular and human traffic will be the consequences
of that gesture as is happening in Accra. Government must make frantic effort to
relocate some of the ministries to Dodowa, the yet to be created capital and
Prampram where we have a vast stretch of land as a gradual process of decongesting
the capital.

It was a sigh of relief to commuters to the capital city when the previous
administration announced that the capital city was being moved to Dodowa. Many
jubilated for that piece of information because they knew it was going to reduce the
pressure on them moving every morning to the capital city to transact business. The
plan to move the capital to Dodowa up to now is still on the drawing board and as to
whether it will see the light of day, only time will tell. Previous governments have
fallen in this trap of failing to implement policies and programmes which have the
potency of improving the lives of the ordinary Ghanaian.

Successive governments were more interested in changing names of existing state
institutions and also drawing plans that would never see the light of day. Recently
our educational system went through such a “naming ceremony", where the Senior
Secondary School was changed to Senior High School. In effect the change of name
brought nothing to us as Ghanaians. We would have been happier to see government
adding more facilities to the existing facilities thereby making education
affordable and accessible to the Ghanaian public.

I have no clue as to why the capital was not moved to Dodowa as announced by the
previous administration. I believe before they went public, plans were far advance
to see it materialized. I will urge the current administration to revisit the
drawing board and find out where they got to and continue from there. If the plan is
not completed they should finish it and if it is already completed, then the plan
has no business gathering dust or warming the shelves. Things must be put in place
quickly for implementation for the benefit of the citizenry.

It is always sad to see the number of cars driving towards the capital city in the
early hours of the morning. You see few cars going to the opposite direction and
that tells you there is something wrong. In most capital cities human and vehicular
traffic are evenly distributed, that is a situation where you have some people
moving away from the capital city and some moving towards it. Currently our problem
is that during the rushing hours of the morning you see vehicular traffic moving
towards one direction that is the capital city thereby creating massive congestion.
In the evenings around 3.30pm you see the same cars in a heavy traffic jam moving
away from the capital

Some families get up as early as in the morning just to avoid the vehicular
traffic we usually see in the capital. Due to the unevenly distribution of vehicular
traffic, it means in the evenings people would have to leave their offices before
the actual closing hours so as to escape the trauma one has to go through whiles in
the traffic. In all these instances hours which have to be used on the job is wasted
in traffic. This will go a long way to affect individual productivity thereby
crippling the better Ghana agenda of the government.

The Accra Metropolitan Authority as we know is in charge of decongesting the capital
city. The institution has become a white elephant as its activities to decongest the
capital have been plagued with political interferences and influences. The A.M.A
must take off its political colouration and be up and doing. In an attempt to
decongest the capital, I want to advise the authorities to relocate the Makola
market and all other markets doted around the capital city outside Accra, providing
good transportation facilities for commuters to those areas where the markets will
be sent to.

Government should come out with elaborate policies and programmes for rural
development, thus making sure infrastructural facilities found in the capital city
are replicated in the rural areas. This gesture will have the potential of
preventing or minimizing the number of people who troop daily to the capital city,

About 30years ago, China adopted a policy of rural infrastructural development just
to prevent or minimize the flooding of the rural folks to the provincial capital
cities in search of jobs. The people in the rural areas are happy because 30years
down the line, they can boast of an equal infrastructural facilities and sometimes
even better than some of the provincial capital cities. Rural urban migration is one
of the factors which has accounted for the congestion in Accra. If China was able to
do it we can, yes we can.

The government should as a matter of urgency put measures in place to develop the
rural areas. Most of the rural areas have been neglected by successive governments
due to lack of vision or political will. Government revenue is mostly generated from
cocoa and gold which are located in the rural areas and yet nothing is being done to
improve those communities as well as the people.

We want government to quickly move into action by embarking on a massive
infrastructural development in the rural areas so as to discourage urban migration
and encourage rural migration thereby decongesting the capital city Accra.The
congestion Accra is facing now is a deliberate negligence on the part of our leaders
to make Accra a modern city. Most of these leaders do go to other countries and they
see how those capitals are structured and yet still when they come back to their
mother land they are not able to put things in place to implement what they saw.
Successive governments’ plans to decongest the capital have been adhoc, so it is not
surprise we find ourselves where we are today.

Ghana as a country should not be where it is today. We have no excuse whatsoever to
be in the state we find ourselves. Countries which have less resources have done a
lot for their economy by providing infrastructural developments for the people.
Ghanaians are perishing slowly because of lack of vision on the part of our
political leaders.

I sometimes ask myself if Ghana is under some kind of a curse. We have the resources
to turn this nation around but we are not able to do so. Is there any unseeing hand
retarding our spiritual and physical growth as a nation? I don’t think so. The
problem is our political leaders who only think about themselves and their immediate
families at the expense of the nation. Political appointees and even public servants
get to their offices and the first thing they think of is how to use state money to
buy 4x4 car for their own comfort. Parliamentarians get to parliament and the next
thing you hear is that the president has approved a loan of $50,000 for each of the
230 parliamentarians to buy car for their comfortability. Our underdevelopment is
partly due to the above instances. State monies which should be used in
resuscitating the economy, providing hospitals, roads, schools, and shaping the
capital into a modern city, are spent on individual
politicians. The president told us during his first nation address that, the
government was going to adopt austerity measures in dealing with issues like the
above. Former president Kufuor during his term of office approved $20,000 to these
same parliamentarians to buy cars, and as to whether those monies have been paid
back to government chest no one knows. Our political leaders are more interested in
making themselves comfortable at the expense of the poor tax payer.

Though we all condemned the actions of the NDC youth by taking over the party head
office and also sacking some directors from their offices, I am tempted to say that
we will be seeing more of these things in the near future. People are more
politically awakened, and leaders put at the helm of affairs should put their acts
together because they will be held by the citizenry in a proper and a legal way to
account for their stewardship. Many people are angry with the politician because
they have failed the citizenry. The taxes which should have been used in providing
infrastructural developments have been stolen, misappropriated and misapplied by the

My heart bleeds when I see the state of Accra as it is now. You will realize that
the city authorities have no plan whatsoever to make it a modern city. Their hands
as I can see are on their heads in despair not knowing what to do to decongest
Accra. Haphazard buildings sitting on water ways, kiosks located at unwanted places
and massive hawking along the ceremonial streets. It’s total confusion to the
maximum in the capital. Street hawking must not be allowed in the capital. The Accra
Metropolitan Authority must get out of their offices and get to the ground to make
sure its by-laws are implemented to the letter

Ghana had the opportunity between the years of 1982 to 1992 to have turned this
unfortunate situation facing the capital today but the chance was blew away by our
political leaders. During that period the political terrain was comparatively
conducive, though there were sporadic coup attempts, for this nation to have seen
unprecedented infrastructural developments to the benefit of the people and also a
better restructuring of the capital city befitting international standards. Between
1993 right down to 2008 the story was not different, nothing much was done to
facelift the state of the capital city. I can say that our political leaders have
lost touch with the people and also, lack the political will to propel this nation
forward in the right direction.

Posterity will never forgive our current and subsequent political leaders if they
fail to make Ghana a better place for us and our children's children

God bless Ghana

Nii Amon