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Opinions of Thursday, 5 May 2016

Columnist: Assam, Balemwo

Northern Ghana has paths, not roads

With the exception of the main roads leading to the major towns and cities in the upper west region, upper east region, and the northern region, all other routes we called roads in the aforementioned regions are paths. Those paths called roads are still, in a gradual advancement process to become roads. These conditions have been with us, since the inception of our nation. On those paths/roads, if two vehicles meet, one has to roll into the rampikes to give way for the other vehicle to pass. We are no longer in the medieval world so, something seriously must be done about them.


Since time in memory, we have always seen those paths/roads leading to our villages with pot holes and dust, the messy nature of those paths/roads when it rains is appalling. In the dry season, anybody who is compelled to go the village covers themselves very well to avoid inhaling dust. Those with air conditioned vehicles roll their glasses up to the fullest and those without air conditions step on the throttle to the floor. They will speed their vehicles either consciously or unconsciously to enable them get to their destination and return back as quickly as they could.


While people are elated to get their buildings by the road side in the cities, it's not the same in the villages. The reasons are simple, when a car passes on that road, trail clouds of dust are always poured on these poor villagers to ingest which obviously may eventually get them sick.


Yet every year, the district councils have a budget to rehabilitate those paths/roads. They will get a contractor to pour gravel on those paths/roads, get a squeaky earth leveling machine to spread the gravel to fill the pot holes. This practice has continued since time in memory, only for the gravel poured on the paths/roads to be eroded when it rains again.


Nobody takes time to inspect that gravel to ascertain the density of the compaction. That's if even at all it is compacted, which I doubt. Nobody test the compaction to be sure it attains the maximum dry density. Without any proper supervision, spreading gravel on those paths/roads is just throwing our money on the ground without any tangible results.


How can we be doing the same thing all the time and expect different results? Our people have suffered for so long a time, when will these situations be tackled head on to ameliorate the unhealthy situation prevailing all over those areas? We should consider feasibility studies of those routes, address bereft factors at locations such as culverts, bridges and gutters ect, to seriously address them.


Compaction of the paths/roads should be inspected by authorities when renovating them to produce desired result. Compaction must attain 95% to 100% of the maximum dry density to withstand pressures of load. We should divide the budget used to maintain the paths/roads every year, by using part to start tarring those paths/roads, even if it's one kilometer every year.


At the moment we have electricity and telephones, we are very grateful to those gallant patriots who made it possible. If we get the roads in order, this will eliminate most of the hazardous effects generated by the dust and will encourage companies, businesses and some of the Non-Governmental Organizations to move into those areas to assist in establishing businesses and building the capacity of our people. The villagers are not allergic to good roads. They just don't have a choice and that's the reason why all hands must be on deck.


People elected into public offices or positions of authority should use that authority to create conducive environment for the people. That's part of the integral reasons why they were elected to those offices. Get a coherent plan of those routes, go out there and talk to somebody. Seek assistance and collaboration legally from companies, businesses the Non-Governmental Organizations. We have some good companies and some good folk out there, who're willing to collaborate and assist if they observe some seriousness.


We need leaders at the helm of affairs who must be prudent and pragmatic with regard to performance. We need leaders who must sometimes positively cogitate outside the box. Organize positive coherent programs that will put the area in a positive focus of attention. Make the place lively by promoting livening and educative programs for both the youth and the adults. We need leaders with bold initiatives to shove us to the next level in development.


Our children should not meet the area just as we met it, because we have no excuse. Necessity has always been a prerequisite for innovation so, we must not succumb to the pressures of our circumstances. Having said that, we cannot realize the complete fortunes of those areas if we're not prepared to step aside from most of our anachronistic ways of doing things.


We should find means to do something substantially, to supplement what trickles in from the national budget because, if even presidents are out there seeking assistance and collaboration all over the world, then we should not sit in the comfort of our offices and expect everything to come from the government alone.


Our past experience makes it apodictic that, nobody will come to our aid if, we do not repine and practically do something about the under development of the north for attention and consideration from all sectors. By nature most northerners are gentle taciturn people. That doesn't mean northerners are comfortable with the neglect of our people and the development of the area by governments. Henceforth, we will shake off the taciturnity and will not sit on the fringes anymore. We will be forthright for all the necessary attention and consideration from all sectors.


Vote out politicians who refuse to take education and road development seriously in their agenda because, to accelerate development and progress in those areas, people voted into positions of authority must be seriously held accountable to see to it that, these roads/paths are tarred. Make every conscious effort to tar those road/paths even if it's one kilometer every year. If we take these steps, we will gradually liberate our people from the jaws of poverty that compels most of them to migrate to the southern part of the country for menial jobs!


Balemwo Assam balemwo@yahoo.co.uk Washington DC