Anytime I use the 250 kilometre Accra-Kumasi Highway, I come back an angry man. I get the impression that this administration does not care one hoot about this nation and its people. I cannot fathom why a government, which claims to have been voted into power by the people, would simply turn its back on the people’s aspirations.
I am of the strong view that the refusal to construct the 30-kilometre stretch of road from Teacher Mante to Apedwa Junction is nothing short of criminal intent. Someone should tell me how much it cost to complete that stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway, that the over GH˘40 billion loans contracted in the name of the people of Ghana, during five years of their mal-administration, would not cover.
I must be honest, if President John Mahama his Roads and Highways Minister, Amin Amidu Suleman, or any of the Deputy Ministers in charge of Roads has been around in the VIP bus when I got to the Apedwa Suhum stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway on Wednesday, I would have punched them on the nose.
I am sorry if any reader is getting the impression that I am by nature a violent person. By nature, I am as meek as a lamb. I am angry that people who have taken over the destiny of this nation, and plunged every Ghanaian, born or unborn, into serious debt from uninhibited borrowing can refuse to construct 30 kilometres of road that is so crucial to the economic being of this nation.
Someone should tell me which road in this country is more important, in terms of its use and linkage, than the Accra-Kumasi Highway. When former President John Agyekum Kufuor took centre stage of the governance system in Ghana, all three highways that formed the Golden Triangle were in very bad state of disrepair.
The Accra-Kumasi Highway and the Accra-Cape Coast road were almost unusable. So was the Cape Coast-Kumasi Highway. To the glory of God and the government’s determination, the Accra-Cape Coast Road was fixed without any cost to the tax-payer. Over 220 out of the 250 kilometres of the Accra-Kumasi Road was rehabilitated, while attempts were made to fix the Kumasi-Cape Coast Road.
Since the National Democratic Congress administration of late President John Evans Atta Mills and President John Mahama took power, construction of our major roads has been handled as if no one really cares. For five years, the two NDC administrations have been pretending to construct the 30-kilometre Teacher Mante-Apedwa Junction stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway.
When the late President Mills was in charge of this nation, he shed crocodile tears over what gained national recognition as the Gang of Four Roads. These are the Achimota-Ofankor stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway, the Teacher-Mante-Apedwa part of the same highway, the Sofoline Interchange in Kumasi, and the Tetteh Quarshie-Adenta stretch of the Accra-Aburi Highway.
The situation of these roads was so deplorable that the late President Mills publicly declared that anytime he used those roads, he felt inwardly ashamed. One thought that the President’s inward feeling would reflect on the urgency with which his administration would tackle the re-construction of these roads. Five years down the line, the only stretch enjoying a clean bill of health is the Achimota-Ofankor stretch that could not have been more than 10 kilometres long.
And they say they are constructing a new Ghana. What is new about a country without a proper road network linking the national capital to the second largest city?
After five years of neglect, leaders of this administration cannot tell Ghanaians that they are interested in re-building this society. What irks so much is that this administration keeps pilling on the debt. What in the name of God has this administration done with all the money it has borrowed?
By the last count, as much as GH˘40 billion has been added to the national debt since deceased President John Evans Atta Mills staggered to the podium and fluffed his lines at the swearing in ceremony at the Independence Square in Accra, on January 7, 2009.
In all honesty, what can those still talking about ‘Better Ghana’ point to as a sign of progress since the Mills/Mahama administration took charge of managing state resources some five years ago?
With a life of austerity in Accra, marked by 79 percent hike in electricity tariff, and water charges increased by 50 percent, the landlord announced a 40 percent hike in rent. To get away temporarily, at least, from the pressure of living in austerity, I decided to take a hike to Kumasi to observe the Akwasidae Festival of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, and to enjoy a good display of football, with the famed Black Stars of Ghana taking on the Pharaohs of Egypt, in the hope that the stress in the system would be reduced by the observance of these two events.
I must emphasise here that the trip itself was largely fulfilling. The observance of the true culture and tradition of the occupant of the Golden Stool and his subjects was a great adventure in cultural education. Contrary to people’s warped perception of an event of purely tribal nature, the meeting of the Kumasi Traditional Council, for instance, is an exercise in national unity.
Here is the occupant of the Golden Stool sharing a purely Ashanti event with the Moshie Chief in Kumasi, the Anlo overlord, the Dagomba leader, and the Fanti Chief in Kumasi. I do not believe that there is any traditional area in Ghana with so diversified a leadership attending to issues of the area as the Kumasi Traditional Council.
That is one reason why those who visit their ignorance on the nation by attacking Otumfuo Osei Tutu II without any foundation, should educate themselves on the role the Asantehene plays in national affairs.
At the last Akwasidae ceremony on Sunday, October 13, the microcosm of national politics was on display. There was Kojo Bonsu, Chief Executive of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, leading a strong contingent of NDC officials, made up of Mr. Eric Opoku, Regional Minister for the Ashanti Region, Tourism Minister Mrs. Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, and Deputy Minister of Sports Joseph Yamin.
The NDC entourage presented assorted drinks and money to help make the occasion grand. From the other side of the political divide, former Minister of Defence and ex-Chairman of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee Abert Kan-Dapaah led a two-man delegation to grace the occasion.
The other member of the New Patriotic Party delegation to the Akwasidae Festival was Mr. Stephen Asamoah- Boateng, one-time Minister of Information and ex-member of Parliament for Mfantseman West. On hand too was Mr. Kojo Yankah, President of the African University of Communications, and one-time aide to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
Akwasidae at Manyia has a universal appeal. On Sunday, a delegation of the Anglican Diocese of Kumasi was present to pay homage to the Asantehene. The delegation was led by the Right Rev. Dr. Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, Anglican Bishop of Kumasi. One interesting feature of last Sunday’s ceremony centered around the usual distribution of drinks by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to his guests. When Senior Linguist Baafour Nsuase Poku III announced the usual distribution of Otumfuo’s drinks after the official ceremony and allocated one bottle of schnapps (Srada in the Akan diction) to the Anglican delegation, many in the crowd giggled.
How could a church delegation be offered drinks? But, that is custom. I saw one of the courtiers at the Asantehene’s Palace take the bottle and lay it coolly by the side of the seat on which Bishop Sarfo sat. I must be honest, I cannot tell how the gift was disposed of.
The significance of the drink distribution lies in the fact that those who pay homage to the great king are never to leave the palace empty-handed. Another thing worthy of note was the cordial relationship exhibited by the NDC and NPP delegations. Messrs. Kan-Dapaah and Asamoah-Boateng joked with Mayor Kojo Bonsu and his delegation.
From where I sat at the post-Akwasidae reception, I saw members of the two rival parties joking animatedly and patted each other’s backs while teasing each other. It was all fun.
When I went to the Baba Yara Stadium on Tuesday, and was a living witness to the Black Stars massacre of the Pharaohs of Egypt, by that incredible 6-1 margin, my health improved considerably. My blood pressure reduced significantly. Kumasi itself was one site of a huge celebration party. Wherever one went, people were jamming on the street. Naturally, the huge victory left me jubilating openly.
When I boarded the VIP bus on the return journey to Accra, there was an inner feeling of satisfaction. For once in several months, there was cause to be proud to be a Ghanaian. All that changed when the bus left Apedwa and hit the treacherous Suhum stretch with its undulating topography.
For five years, this administration has been pretending to construct a stretch that should not take six months to complete. To add to the confusion of a government that is at sea with national development, the contractor has long left the site.
As the bus meandered its way through the rough road, I wondered what the Member of Parliament for Ayesuano, Mr. Samuel Ayeh-Paye, and his constituents could do to convince this mal-administration of President John Dramani Mahama that they cannot continue to be clothed in dust, after 10 years of a construction project that is heading for nowhere.
I will like to believe that drivers, who ply the route, and all Ghanaians, have an obligation to Mother Ghana to withdraw taxes from this administration, in protest against how the Mahama administration is short-changing all Ghanaians. The failure to construct that mere 30-kilometre road in five years tells the story of failure. It is a big shame!
Source: The Chronicle
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