Feature Article of Monday, 17 July 2017

Columnist: Obrempong Yaw Ampofo

Prestea; a town of gold with ugly roads

This bad road network certainly comes at a cost to both drivers and passengers

The name Prestea sounds familiar, right? Yea, it’s a long known town in Ghana for obvious reasons. It’s a land rich in gold. In this town and its environs are large scale mining companies such as [Golden Star Resources – Prestea]; small scale mining companies, and several youths engaged in illegal small scale mining. It’s a golden city where a simple request to see how gold looks like will yield positive results!

Prestea is in the Prestea Huni Valley District of the Western Region. The about 170,000 people in the district are predominantly farmers and miners. In terms of general elections, the Prestea Huni Valley Constituency has the largest registered voters in the region – This was confirmed in the 2016 elections.

When you hear the name Prestea, how does it sound in your ears? A beautiful golden city with shining lights and good roads? Well, in the town’s current state, that’s a big illusion! Prestea and its adjourning communities are home to one of the most terrible roads in the country. What a wow!

As I said earlier, the district at large is rich in gold. In 2016 alone, Golden Star Resources produced and sold 23,893 ounces of gold from the belly of the soil. That comes with some pretty cool taxes to the Ghanaian government for development. The usual direct and indirect taxes from the inhabitants of the districts added to taxes paid to the state by registered small scale miners and all other monies, put the district ahead of many districts financially across the country.

But apart from the only trunk road from Tarkwa – Bogoso to Ayamfuri, which construction completed in the last quarter of 2016, no other road in this supposed rich district is tarred.

Let’s start from Bogoso. Bogoso, another ‘golden City’, is the capital of the Prestea Huni-Valley District. Until recently when the Tarkwa-Bogoso Ayamfuri trunk road was completed, the capital itself had its main high streets slapped with potholes of different sizes.

When it rains slightly, all that is seen is mud. That construction has sort of elevated the image of Bogoso. But, it is from this portion that the beginning of a sad story is told of Prestea.

Less than 50 meters away from the Bogoso High street towards Prestea, are many unfriendly potholes on the road. The 23.4km stretch will take you some 50 minutes to an hour to travel amidst ‘dancing’.

This bad road network certainly comes at a cost to both drivers and passengers. For the drivers, mostly Taxis, you would have to change your car almost every year, if you really want to stay in business. Ask anybody from Prestea and its environs the number of 2014 to 2016 registered taxis that are still in operation in 2017; and how many of the passengers are willing to board those cars. Many of those cars have broken down and have been parked.

Those in operation are just too uncomfortable for use on that rickety road from Bogoso to Prestea. As a result, majority of the cars you see on that 23km distance are 2017 registered taxis.

That is for the road from Bogoso to Prestea. Let’s now come to the roads in Prestea Township.

In fact, it’s a shame and an indictment on central and local government authorities in this area. That a town that sits on plenty wealth has terrible high streets roads with intertwining potholes. It’s just a paradox of plenty, no matter how one looks at it. Here too, it gets worse with the slightest rainfall. Brothers and sisters, it’s an unpleasant and a disgraceful moment to be in Prestea when it rains. Mud is found everywhere, including the main high street to their lorry terminal. In fact, Prestea roads cannot be described by words, in view of what leaves that soil annually.

Currently, some works are being done on the town roads, but wait, what the hell is wrong with this country? What is the use of the training we have given engineering students at Legon and KNUST all these years if we still construct such shameful 5th class roads in a strategic area like Prestea?

It’s shockingly terrifying! No! Help me here, what determines the type or quality of road for a particular area? The load that plies it? The profitability of the road, the intelligence of the road users, colour or race of users or what?

See, a certified popular contractor is engaged to bring some sanity to the roads in Prestea. It started somewhere in the latter part of 2015. It will interest you to know that 8 months after some snail pace work was done on some roads in parts of the town, potholes are everywhere. It’s appalling, so the contractor and the person who sat in his comfortable office to prescribe this 5th class road to be done in Prestea, ‘how be market’? God bless you!

Friends, I will not talk about the roads to Huni Valley, Oppong Valley, Nsuta where the recent collapsed Galamsey pit disaster occurred. Just see below this picture for yourself.

Before I rest my case; let me say thank you for reading, but share it with the contractor and the highways person responsible for Prestea roads. Tell him his good plans have stuck in his head for far too long.

Tell him the comfort in his air-conditioned car and office are from the monthly sweat of a Ghanaian, who believed in him to turn things around.

Tell him to act immediately, for previous directors behaved same until their retirement with questionable conscience. Tell him these old ways of doing things is uncharacteristic of people who want results. God is watching us all!

Lest I forget, Prestea is not in this alone; many of Ghana’s mining towns suffer same fate from Tarkwa to Obuasi, to Akwatia and others.