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Opinions of Saturday, 27 June 2020

Columnist: Mohammed Rabiu Adam

Ghana's challenges and coronavirus


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The arrival of COVID-19 in Ghana exposed challenges, which are multifaceted as the whole country experienced the shocks of the pandemic waves especially when the government pronounced lockdown in the Greater Accra, Greater Kumasi and Kasoa, environ in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

These exposés were mostly realized and experienced in just 21 days of lockdown in only certain parts of the country, the hardships being churned out by the citizenry indicated that there was equal hidden knowingly pandemic in the entire economy which is about better and bread matter. The Finance Minister Hon Ken Ofori Atta is on record to have agreed to this assertion.

Equally, the pandemic has unravelled numerous ingenuities, creativities and innovative opportunities. These have led to the manufacturing of the solar powered-hand-washing device, which has received approval from Ghana Standard Authority and international recognition, landmark research finding by the Scientists at the University of Ghana-Legon; Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research - College of Health Sciences, taxi driver invention of automated hand-washing-sanitizer among others. Notwithstanding that, there were also equal numerous challenges the country faced.

The first and foremost challenge the coronavirus presented was the degree of abject poverty in the country. The greater part of the workforce in the country are in the informal sector of the economy are largely concentrated in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions. The severity of the pandemic shook the foundations of the central government leading to a reduction of the projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth from 6.8% to 2.5% for the 2020 financial year. Further, the government has to resort to a rapid credit facility of $1billion from the World Bank to enable it to sustain the numerous social interventions that have been being rolled out.

The government was compelled by the circumstances to absorb the electricity bills for lifeline consumers and 50% cut for residential and commercial consumers and water bills for all Ghanaians for three solid months (April, May and June) in each case, as they were essential in fighting the virus due to the abject poverty in the country. If not the severity of abject poverty and evidence of the economy in the informal sector being hand-to-mouth, why should the government be bothered for just 21 days restriction of movement all in the interest of the people be worrisome? No wonder the basis for lifting the lockdown was primarily due to economic issue.

The shelter is one of the basic needs of human beings. However, when COVID-19 unwelcomely greeted Ghanaians, it has exposed how poor the housing system is in Ghana. Closed to 4700 souls who plied their trade as Kayayes and their children were packed in a goods truck without observing social distancing returning to the north. The disturbing scene speaks volumes of the kind of housing deficit confronting us as a country.

It further tells us the kind of leaders we have leading the welfare of the citizenry. COVID-19 has seriously exposed us.

As usual, reactionary supports were rather roll out. These reactionary interventions could not be sustained towards ensuring the quality of likelihood of this human race. Already, the Kayayes who pay tax to the local government authorities in their respective districts were sleeping on the pavements and streets of Tudu, Mala Atta market, Darkuman circle stations in Accra and in the Ashanti regions, they are found in areas like Adukrom, Sewaba, Aboabo, Dagomba line, Kejetia, Suame, Race-course among other places.

Another major challenge that the pandemic has exposed is the level of the lawlessness of the citizens. With some mentality that could best be explained by Psychologists, Ghanaians were told that the virus has no ability to cause its locomotion but rather it is humans who carry it from one place to the other. For that matter, people were to strictly adhere to restriction protocols with the hope of helping to curb the spread of the disease. However, some Ghanaians seize the opportunity to exhibit their lawlessness to the extent that a civilian slapped a military man on duty. This can be true, right?

Under normal circumstances, one would have expected the police officers to have handled this law and order scenes. But, the police have already been turned into a chewing stick by some Ghanaians. The lawlessness also manifested along with the border towns. Ghana recorded some positive cases due to some other African nationals illegally entering the country. Some of these foreign nationals have to be ferried from Togo and Burkina Faso to the Ivory Coast by Ghanaians without observing any protocols. Most of these other African nationals’ came into the country through unapproved roots.

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