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Opinions of Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Columnist: Abdulai, Alhaji Alhasan

The Zongos/Inner cities and matters arising


Many people in and outside the localities to be considered for development under the Zongos and Inner Cities Ministry, were happy when news about the issue came out. The well meaning ones in and outside Ghana felt that such a move is long overdue but agreed that the landmark initiative is better late than never.

The fact that the duty of redeveloping the areas concerned has been placed on the shoulders of capable and hardworking Alhaji Abubakar Sidik Boniface, MP for Madina Abokobi, many people in and out of Ghana are exited. They are hopeful that he will hit the ground running by choosing the right team to work with.

They know that since the Zongos are already demarcated with leaders such as community chiefs and religious leaders and some technocrats in place, things would be a bit easy for him. In most of the areas concerned, the ministry might identify one or two projects such as drainage systems, markets school buildings and modern places of convenience immediately, there may be on-going infrastructure for schools and orphanages, tailoring and mechanic shops, markets and commercial centers in the areas.

With the help of the new ministry, owners of these outfits may wish to seek assistance through soft loans and other donations to get them expanded. However, in doing so, care must be taken to ensure that the expansion programs fit into the plan for the areas. For example, small firms that operate without emitting harmful smoke and noise would have to be allowed in the areas known to be close societies.

I know very well that the new ministry under Hon Boniface will be meticulous in its work by making sure that only the right things would be permitted to ensure the peace and safety of inhabitants of the inner cities and the Zongos at all times. One thing that must be taken into consideration is that most of the households in the areas concerned consist of large families who live Together with women bearing the brunt on daily lives in the people.

The women who are ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ are responsible for the kids at home and also responsible for feeding them. While the men provide cash periodically for the upkeep of the homes the women engage in petty trading or hawking to support their homes.

All those who have studied life in the Zongos would realize that the women in these areas are ‘magicians’. Apart from straining to support their homes with food and to some extent paying fees for those kids in schools, they dole out money to support families in and outside their homes during naming ceremonies, funerals and marriages, sometimes distant away in towns and villages from their homes.

In doing these, the women spend money regularly on new clothes to the ceremonies to the extent that these clothes are stashed in their wardrobes. To save the situation the new ministry must institute a means of helping the women out by advising them on how to do things in moderation and to learn to save money instead of spending all they have on ceremonies.

We have a whole lot of individuals and organizations that can easily come to the aid of the women by helping them to form cooperatives with a plan to help them to save in trickles on the daily, weekly and monthly basis.

They can also be assisted to open accounts for their small firms’ social groupings and non-governmental organizations and families to learn to save money together and go for loans as and when they need them


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