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Opinions of Monday, 5 September 2005

Columnist: Ampofo, Ofori

Ghana's Over-Reliance On Foreign Loans

30 MILLION U.S. DOLLARS LOAN FOR PRESIDENTIAL HOUSE .
30 MILLION U.S. DOLLARS LOAN FOR RURAL ELECTRIFICATION .

A press review on Sunday 28th August 2005 on Ghanaweb indicated that the Export and Import (Exim) Bank of India has extended a loan of 60 million US Dollars to Ghana for building a presidential house. PEDUASE LODGE or FLAG STAFF HOUSE and rural electrification.

The press release also indicated that besides Ghana, lines of credits (LoCs) were extended to Congo, Ivory coast and Mali. I have no knowledge of the needs of the three other African countries, however, I'm 100% sure that Ghana's priority as a nation, is not to borrow 30 million US Dollars to renovate or build a presidential house. If anybody thinks that I'm at the wrong side of the equation, let that person write a rejoinder against mine, because I'm going to go further to prove why I think borrowing 30 million dollars to build or renovate a presidential house will be a total misapplication of resources and misplacement of priorities.
After going through the hell to secure 4 billion Dollars G8 debt cancellation, our culture of borrowing from foreign donor countries should be well tailored and defined to suite our real needs. We must learn to create our own wealth for development. The 30 million US Dollars for rural electrification is reasonable but we should make sure that, that kind of loan, goes to fulfill it's intended purpose. Instead of the presidential house, I think there are a lot that 30 million US Dollars can do in the following sectors of the economy which will go to serve the interest of all Ghanaians; i e, Education, Health, Agriculture, and Roads and Highways.
Fellow country men, on the 29th of August 2005 on Ghana web, A breaking news rocked the whole Ghanaian airwaves about a fatal motor accident which claimed the lives of three prominent Ghanaian doctors on the Accra-Kumasi road between Bunso and Apedwa. The doctors were part of a medical team returning from an outreach program at the Sunyani general hospital, when an oncoming saloon car, crashed into their Nissan patrol truck.
A week prior to those doctors tragic death, there was the news of the ascendancy of fatal motor accidents, resulting in the loss of many lives on the Wineba- Kasoah road between Accra - Takoradi. We know of fatal accidents that have occurred on the Kumasi- Sunyani, Kumasi- Tamale, and Accra-Aflao highways. Just as I was writing this article, on August 30th, there came another breaking news on the Ghana web about the loss of fifteen people in an accident involving three Benz busses at Akokoaso on the Oboase- Kumasi road. The loss of human lives in any way or form, is very sad indeed and therefore, wish to extend my deepest heartfelt condolences to all the bereaved families and friends and the nation as a whole, especially for the loss of the three distinguished urologist of the Korle Bu hospital, who died in the service of the nation. May their souls rest in peace.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Chief administrator of the Korle Bu hospital, described the death of the three urologists as a big blow; pointing out that, since they were trainers, the training of urologists is going to be affected. He continued, " they are heroes and they gave up their lives in the service of humanity" (YES THEY ARE TRUE HEROES)
I am trying to draw the attention of the public, the government, the lawmakers (parliamentarians) and the council of state to these losses of lives on our roads, and attribute them to the fact that, after forty eight years of independence, Ghana is still constructing single lane major highways from the capital city to link the other cities. Why can't we start from somewhere, constructing dual carriage highways to link our cities? It is really a shame. If Accra- Kumasi road were a dual highway, the untimely demise of precious lives of Professor J. M. K. Quartey, Dr. Isaac Bentsi and Dr. Benjamin Osei Wiafe wouldn't have been met by an oncoming vehicle. These selfless and devoted citizens, who the country needs today, more than anytime in our history could still be performing at the Korle Bu hospital if the Accra - Kumasi highway was a dual carriage. They now belong to history, but what can we learn from their unfortunate demise? Unfortunately, the answer is, our resources have not been judiciously prioritized and applied in the national development effort.
When Dr. Kwame Nkrumah constructed the Accra Tema Motorway, many were those who thought it was a waste of resources. Today, the motorway, I believe, is a very good revenue generator to the national economy, if of course, people render sincere returns. When Dr. Kwame Nkrumah constructed the Akosombo Hydro electric dam, there were those who opposed its' construction. Today, everything depends on it. I can go on and on. Those who are living witnesses, know what I'm talking about. That was a visionary leader. Twenty nine years after his overthrow, not even the motorway continuation stretch from the Tetteh Quarshie exchange to link the Takoradi road through Abeka Lapaz has been completed by successive governments.
NATIONAL DISASTER: In his reaction to the death of the illustrious medical doctors, the president, John Agyekum Kufour is said to have described it as a national disaster, irreparable loss and shocking. President Kufour further said, the fact that professor Quartey age 80 went on the outreach program to help bring relief to the suffering, showed the quality of selflessness he and his colleagues were imbued with. The president continued, " we pray that they would not have lost their lives in vain" the lesson health professionals and all other professional in the country should learn was that, nobody would come from anywhere to build the nation for us. He therefore urged Ghanaians to be mindful of that and use their talents to serve the country"
The tribute by President John Agyekum Kufour, and his visit to the hospital bed of Dr. George Klufio who survived the accident showed his sense of statesmanship, and I admire him for such connections. However, something fell short. In emotional situations of such magnitude, visionaries always come up with big ideas. I was therefore expecting the president to declare that, For the loss of those great devoted and selfless sons of our country, the way in which they lost their lives, and for their immortalized memory, I will present a bill to Parliament to consider into law, the construction of dual carriage highways from Accra to Kumasi, Accra to Takoradi, Kumasi to Tamale, Kumasi to Sunyani and Accra to Aflao within the next twenty years. I whole heartedly promise the bereaved families of Professor J. M. K. Quartey, Dr. Isaac Bentsi and Dr. Benjamin Osei Wiafe that, when the bill is passed in parliament and comes back to my desk, I will sign it into law. As a result of that, I will cause the re- negotiation of the 30 million US Dollars Export and Import Bank of India loan meant to build a presidential house; and redirect the same, to begin a dual carriage construction of the Kumasi Highway, which will be renamed Professor J. M. K. Quartey highway on it's completion. ACCRA-TAKORADI Renamed Dr.Isaac Bentsi highway and KUMASI- SUNYANI Renamed Dr. Benjamin Osei Wiafe highway.
Fellow country men, if the loan for the presidential house is renegotiated and redirected into the construction of the first dual carriage highway in the country, in memory of Professor Quartey, I will add my token contribution of (5,000.00 )Five Thousand US Dollars to the 30 million US Dollars; and I know many such contributions will be forth coming from a lot many Ghanaians who think Ghana needs to move forward in our development aspirations.
Fellow Ghanaians,Let us start from somewhere to create our own wealth abundantly and live to some extent, within the resources of the nation. RELYING HEAVILY ON BORROWED EXTERNAL RESOURCE HAS NOT BEEN HEALTHY FOR US; THEY HAVE ONLY MADE US LAZY, POOR, RELAXED AND DOING NOTHING .
GOD BLESS OUR HOMELAND AND OUR PEOPLE.

Ofori Ampofo (New Jersey)

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