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Opinions of Sunday, 16 January 2011

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Dr. Vandy's city and the road monster

By George Sydney Abugri



The hyperactive mayor of Accra says he is in the process of making our capital one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I like this guy for sheer industry Jomo. Dr. Alfred Vanderpuije is probably busy drawing small, closed circles around Trassaco Valley, Airport Residential Area, East Legon and a few areas with skyscrapers and sprawling mansions.



Outside these choice locations, our beloved capital is an expanse of very crowded, high density areas with little or no space to store refuse appropriately for subsequent disposal. The result? Accra now produces between 1,500 and 1,800 metric tones of refuse every day.



The sky-bound mountains of refuse, I daresay, are enough to bury Dr. Vanderpije along with his millennium city plans in a super giant heap before he can implement them. That is if his millennium city plans do not place waste disposal top of his agenda but then, I am coming to Dr. Vandy and his millennium city in a jiffy...



Road accident fatalities in Ghana are now threatening to peak six digit figures: I saw traffic cops flagging down and proceeding to arrest many motorists in Tema and Accra during the week for various road traffic offenses.



The cops have vowed to show no mercy and to haul before traffic court judges, motorists arrested for drunk driving, chatting on mobile phones while driving, driving without a license and driving old, rickety motor vehicles.



Many drunken motorists who drive busloads of people off cliffs tend to be low income earners and when it comes to booze, VC 10 is their drink of choice.



Since one small measure of the stuff can make a driver stink like a distillery from a thousand kilometers away, the cops who are armed with breath analyzers anyway, should have no problem with tracking down drunken drivers.



I doubt though if they can tackle the problem of the rickety vehicles with similar ease. Many cabs and buses on our streets and highways are nothing but loose metal hulks threatening to fall apart any moment.



The dilemma is this, Jomo: Take all the ramshackle buses and cabs off the streets and highways and thousands of our compatriots will begin the great millennium trek on foot across the country. Keep the unsightly contraptions on the roads and the daily slaughter will continue.



A sensible choice if you ask my opinion would be to take them off the roads for better or worse: Sometimes you board a cab and find yourself in a Medieval space capsule which unknown archeologists dug up from somewhere: Dust, rust and dangling wires holding the ancient car stereo and various bolts and nuts in place to keep them from falling off!



The pilot himself is sometimes an unsmiling, unwashed, sweaty fellow low in patience, deficient in courtesy and spoiling for an altercation with other road users.



Back to Dr. Vandy and his millennium city project, Jomo: As part of his plan to develop his millennium city, the mayor proposes to round up all street children of school going age and effect the immediate arrest of their parents into the bargain!



That the mayor wants the children in school is an honourable thing in itself, but then, the overriding motive is to develop his millennium city and why not, take the credit that would come with such a project if it is successful.



You can only hope that in pursuit of that motive, he does not forget that he is dealing with his compatriots who are more victims of flawed urban development planning and fairly endemic poverty than people in love with the life of street tramps and vagabonds they have been condemned to.



Society exists only because it is made up of people. The ultimate focus of all rational developing planning should therefore be the development of the human being and not just the building of sky scrapers and paved streets, don’t you think?



If those in authority end up chasing the people around and beating them on the heads, they are going in the very opposite direction as far as human development is concerned, don’t you think?



The real challenge for Dr Vnaderpujie and the political administration is to develop comprehensive policies to deal with the problems of poverty, urban-rural migration, lousy urban development policies, urban congestion, unemployment and the nation’s housing deficits.



Part of the mayor’s plan is to rid the city of the unsightly shacks and makeshift structures all over the place. It can be a dicey deal, Jomo because if it is not done humanely, it could cost the ruling party precious votes in 2012.



2012 will test very rigorously again, the sincerity of all those across the political divide who keep making them selves out as democrats. Real democrats don’t monkey around with the will of the people when it comes to national elections, do they



The resilience of the ruling National Democratic Congress will be tested by its own internal party wrangling and the stiff challenge of the New Patriotic Party.



It now appears the alleged bid by former first lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings to become the next president of our might y republic, is more than a flight of fancy of someone’s imagination. Her supporters keep circulating what appear to be her campaign posters.



What do you reckon Mrs. Rawlings’s chances of becoming the next president are, if she runs against Professor Mills and makes it past the primaries to race the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo?



There is what I keep referring to as the bloc vote phenomenon: Many large consistencies in this country do not vote for individuals but for political parties. In that case all that Mrs. Rawlings would need to become president would simply be the approval of party congress to run against Akufo-Addo!



It all sounds easy until you remember that Mills is surrounded by political heavyweights who know the name of this game, who have such a colossal stake in Mills’s continued stay in power and who would see the heavens come crashing down first, before they let go of Mills hold on the presidency. So? Solateedoo, interesting times lie ahead as our political history continues to unfold.



As for JJ himself, we have heard a prophesy about him this week: We have seen them come and go, circus clowns and daylight swindlers in clerical robes who rip off gullible men and women in a desperate and sometimes confused search for God.



We are familiar with their antics. It however gets confusing when respected clergymen appear to join the fray:



This week Arch-bishop Duncan Williams, one of Ghana’s most respected clergymen came up with a bizarre prediction, namely that JJ may soon become a Christian priest.



What kind of clergyman do you reckon JJ might become: A conservative Christian priest in the mould of our orthodox clergy? A prosperity-teaching, miracle dispensing, charismatic priest who will prance about the stage preaching a gospel of his own devising and punctuating his homilies with “ladies n’ gentlemen”, instead of “brothers and sisters in Christ?” I guess it is only the arch-bishop who knows.



Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com

Website: www.sydneyabugri.com