For everyone who has a clear appreciation of the country Ghana, the nation remains a developing country located in West Africa. Even though the country has produced prominent citizens who held high the flag of the nation giving it a name internationally, there are basic challenges that the nation continue to face. The Osagyefor Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, whose works brought several attention to the nation, understood from the beginning, after independence, that, the nation must tackle issues of development comprehensively.
I must present that the subject of development remain a relative issue interpreted by many, depending on their individual assessment of what the concept development must mean to them. The general focus in this article assesses development in the manner many see it on the face. Development in the sense that the nation’s infrastructure must be at a certain level, which means good roads, potable water, access to power, education and health, must constitute the very basic of our everyday life. A nation whose transportation system is marked clearly, that allows private vehicle users the opportunity to do so, while assuring the traveling public who prefer public transport the opportunity to do same without unnecessarily spending productive hours in traffic.
On the basis of this, governments have been elected to spearhead the affairs of the nation since its independence. Under the fourth (4th) Republican Constitution, the Ghanaian is aware of the challenges that confront this nation. Several years after independence, access to good roads remain a challenge, access to potable drinking water remains a challenge, access to quality healthcare remains a challenge, good and quality educational facilities remain inaccessible to many of our population. Indeed, there is close to 20 percent, if not more, of the nation’s population who are without electricity even though we are told to have excess power which we do not need.
Indeed, before the recent elections, these were clear to us, as have been in the past. We were clear that the people of Ghana continue to endure the slow pace of development they were receiving. Again, many are those who have demonstrated one time or the other over what they thought should be basic in their lives. Coupled with expansions in our settlements, development and the provision of infrastructure and basic social amenities, must remain focal and continuous on every government’s agenda.
Before the exit of the John Dramani Mahama administration, several efforts were undertaken to ensure the raising of access to some infrastructure across the country. It would be appropriate for one to present that hardly was there any district in this country that was without one project or the other.
While at that, his critics were all over the place, pontificating how Ghanaians do not eat roads, schools and hospitals. Indeed, in no part of the world do people eat roads, but they need those roads to attend to their everyday projects that provide them food. No part in this world do people eat schools, but they all need those schools in their perfect forms to equip their citizens with the knowledge they require to gain professional careers that would later provide them food.
No part of the world indeed, do people eat hospitals, but they must attend to these hospitals if in their pursuit to obtain the food they eat, they fall sick. Such lame was the argument that it made nonsense of every effort being made at the time to change the face of Ghana with the massive infrastructure development that were ongoing under the John Dramani Mahama’s administration.
I chanced upon a video (posted below) in which the president, His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo lamented over bad roads in Ghana. He was heard saying that it was disgraceful for Ghana to have these type of roads. The question that arises then is, having been president for almost three (3) years, what has been his contribution as a president towards uplifting the road infrastructure of the country?
Indeed, some major roads would have been constructed and completed by now if not for the directive from the government he preside over to the effect that all roads under the Cocoa Roads Project be halted for audit. The Minority in Ghana’s Parliament have had cause to accuse the government of wasting some $10 million on audit of these roads without establishing any wrongdoing in any of the contracts awarded (https://ghananewsfeed.com/10m-illegally-spent-on-cocoa-roads-audit-minority-alleges), (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Gov-t-illegally-spent-10m-on-cocoa-roads-audit-Minority-alleges-766748). Recently, there was a directive for work to resume on some of these roads in the Central Region of Ghana (https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2019/September-28th/cr-ten-cocoa-road-contractors-asked-to-resume-work-immediately.php). As it stands, the citizens are not aware of the outcome of the audit that resulted in the delays in these projects.
What we need to understand is that, it would cost the nation more than it would have spent in the past if the contracts had gone through as were awarded. Cost of materials have gone up, and at least, on the face of it, we all are aware that a gallon of petrol has moved from the Ghc14 a gallon, the equivalent of $2.60 dollars in 2016, to Ghc24 a gallon, the equivalent of $4.44 in 2019. This automatically should inform us that the cost of acquiring fuel for these constructions in 2016 would affect the contract sum in 2019.
Infrastructure plays an important role that we cannot downplay its importance. Especially when such structures are so huge to cause significant impact in the lives of our citizens. For years, people in the Shai Osudoku District and specifically Dodowa and its environs, have cried over good hospital facility. It informed the Mahama administration’s decision to locate one of four uniquely designed hospitals in the area. Not long ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, was reported to have recommended the Dodowa hospital as a benchmark hospital for Africa. I found this on the Facebook wall of WHO, attributed to their Regional Director (https://www.facebook.com/347511042067117/posts/1018945278257020?sfns=mo). There were several other reports and images on social media which showed pregnant women who were cheerful over the facility while present to receive medical care.
While these were happening, three other such facilities have been left to rot in other parts of the country. Specifically, a similar designed hospital in Fomena in the Ashanti Region, has been left to rot after the change of government in 2017. At the time, it was over 80 percent complete, but since assumption of office of the Akufo-Addo government, no single work has been seen on that project resulting in the chiefs and people complaining bitterly over government’s neglect of the facility that was meant to provide world-class health care to them and those around their catchment area, (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Fomena-boils-over-abandoned-hospital-project-755977). The Minority members on the Committee of Health of Parliament have recently toured some abandoned health facilities across the country. You can read some of their work here and appreciate what this nation is losing as a result (https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/politics/minority-bemoans-abandoned-health-facilities.html). The recent facility to have received international recognition is the Terminal 3 of the Kotoka International Airport. In a story on myjoyonline sourced from Daily Graphic in June 2018, the story outlined how the Terminal 3 build under the Mahama Administration, measures as a world class facility (https://www.myjoyonline.com/business/2018/August-6th/kias-terminal-3-compares-with-best-in-the-world.php). It outlines how travelers in the past had had to endure the poor conditions with hopes that the situation would change some day.
That change had occurred following the completion of the project and the opening of same for the traveling public in September of 2018, ending the 3 years long wait of a project that began in 2015 (https://www.myjoyonline.com/business/2018/September-15th/kotoka-international-airport-terminal-3-opens-to-passenger-traffic.php). One year on, Terminal 3 wins award as the top airport in West Africa and the 4th best in Africa (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Kotoka-best-in-West-Africa-789658). Meanwhile, since assumption of office, there were several reports from government officials of how the contract cost of the said Terminal 3 project was bloated. No one would be against investigating such claims, but to the extent that the claims were left as mere allegations, it would be unfortunate to keep them standing.
Again, appointees of the Akufo-Addo government have jumped over themselves to report how defective the Terminal 3 project was, and how money was wasted on same. Indeed, in this report, as much as 513 defects were reported to have been spotted on this project by the current Aviation Minister Mr. Joseph Kofi Ada under whose authority this airport operate (https://starrfm.com.gh/2019/10/terminal-3-has-513-defects-kofi-ada/). That notwithstanding, those it takes to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of an airport were able to adjudge the facility as the best in West Africa settling our minds finally on the beauty and quality of work executed on that facility. We have seen many times on social media, foreign nationals taking videos and pictures from Terminal 3 and appreciating the vision that went into such a project by the John Mahama administration.
What has emerged over these few years following the exit of the Mahama administration is that there were some notable huge infrastructure projects that are yet to be seen since assuming power by the Akufo-Addo government.
A few days ago, the Wa airstrip was opened to the general public and for commercial flights to the Upper West Region (https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2019/october-17th/wa-airport-opens-for-commercial-flight-operations.php). In the Aviation Minister’s presentation at the inauguration, he was said to have indicated that the Wa Airport was meant to open up the country. In that same spirit, there is a completed airport in Ho, the capital of the Volta Region. Since assuming power, several operatives of the government took turns to chastise the project and classified it as unnecessary. If the Wa airstrip is meant to open up the country, how come that of Ho doesn’t contribute to opening up the same country especially when it was built by the same vision of the John Mahama administration?
The state must demand consistency and responsibility from its leaders. The taxpayers’ monies were invested in projects of these nature and must be put to use. It must not lie in the whims and caprices of individuals to deny the people their rights to enjoy facilities built by their taxes.
Before assuming power, the Akufo-Addo administration was aware that the country they were seeking to govern is in dire need of roads, water, electricity, schools, hospitals, and what have you. The people, aside any fantasies that people in government hold over GDP, Inflation rate, Interest rate, require to see these reflect in their lives. On the face, GDP cannot deploy to fix roads, Inflation cannot deploy to build hospitals. All these are meaningless if on daily basis, people have to rise to demonstrate over basic social services that they lack.
It has been three years, and when you attempt ascertaining any meaningful governance impact, the easiest response you get is that the president is doing well when these are not reflective in our societies. Indeed, if he was doing well, the video attached above, where he was heard lamenting over bad roads, would have been fixed by him.Sometime in May this year, the stretch between Jasikan and Hohoe of the Eastern Corridor Road which now connects the northern part of the Volta Region to the southern part of the Oti Region, received the convoy of the President and his Minister for Roads. He promised fixing that section between July and September. As we speak, not a single grader has been deployed on that stretch to “fix” the road five months since that promise was made.
In a developing country like ours, government cannot keep running from fixing the nation’s infrastructure. If it is ideology that is denying the people the right to see development, they must change those who hold ideological positions that government should not focus attention on such sectors of the economy. Anyone who followed the Donald Trump campaign in America, a highly capital ideological nation, he was heard promising to rebuilt Americas infrastructure. This simply sends a signal that, nations that look up to the likes of America as its benchmark for development, could not do so without focusing on infrastructure, and not the least, governments of developing nations like Ghana.