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08.09.2005 Feature Article

$30 Million Loan For Presidential House ...

$30 Million Loan For Presidential House ...
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...Whiles Poor Roads kill thousands per year. Where are our Priorities? There are literally thousands of Ghanaians dying every year due to poor road design and construction, and yet the government response seems inadequate. On the 29th of August 2005 Ghana web reported, the fatal motor accident which claimed the lives of three prominent Ghanaian medical practioners, Professor J. M. K. Quartey, Dr. Isaac Bentsi and Dr. Benjamin Osei Wiafe (pictured) on the Accra-Kumasi road between Bunso and Apedwa. The report suggests that they were returning from a sacrificial and selfless outreach program at the Sunyani General Hospital when an oncoming saloon car crashed into their Nissan patrol truck. Ghana Leadership Union (GLU) wishes to extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to all the bereaved families, friends and the entire nation for the loss of the three distinguished urologist of the Korle Bu Hospital. May their souls rest in perfect peace.

Undoubtedly frequent high incidence of fatal motor accidents on Ghana roads results in the loss of many lives and examples could be cited on the loss of many lives on the following roads: the Wineba- Kasoah road, Accra – Takoradi, Kumasi- Sunyani, Kumasi- Tamale, and Accra-Aflao highways. In the 2004 a comprehensive report was given by GLU President Kwaku Danso in a series of three articles posted on the Ghanaweb refereed to below attest to this issue of common concern:

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.asp?ID=63468 http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.asp?ID=63498 http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.asp?ID=63567

The message appears not to have been heeded by the government. On August 30th, 2005 another road accident that took the lives of 15 Ghanaians was also reported on the Ghana web besides the road accident that claimed the lives of our 3 statesmen (urologists) on August 29. The report indicates fifteen people in an accident involving three Benz busses at Akokoaso on the Oboase- Kumasi road.

A press review on Sunday 28th August 2005 on Ghana Web [http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.asp?ID=88944] also indicates that the Export and Import (Exim) Bank of India has extended a loan of US $30 million to Ghana for building a presidential house [PEDUASE LODGE or FLAG STAFF HOUSE]. This is a puzzling piece of news, since the loan also includes $30 Million allotted for rural electrification. It gives the impression not only to potential investors but to the rest of the world that for a nation like Ghana, renovating a Presidential palace is more important than rural development which includes electrification, redesigning and building better quality roads to save the lives of our people. It is very unacceptable and Ghana Leadership Union believes that considering the state of the country now, the Presidential Mansion MUST wait until we have completed well designed lasting carriage roads that will save our peoples' precious lives!

Following the death of these 3 Medical doctors /Urologists, Ofori Ampofo has since written an article, (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.asp?ID=89465) GHANA'S OVER-RELIANCE ON FOREIGN LOANS (2005-09-05), lamenting on similar incidents. He has offered to add $5,000 to the $30 million expected loan if the Government of Ghana would consider putting this into improving our roads to save other precious lives. We believe the government should seize this opportunity to create a road construction fund and solicit funds from all and sundry for re-building our roads. Others may be moved to follow Mr. Ofori Ampofo's example. Who knows?

The government of Ghana (The Executive, and Parliament) must begin the process of initiating a bill that will convert all major Ghanaian Roads [especially the ones known to be accident-prone] into at least dual carriage roads. Our present government must follow the good example set by former president Nkrumah. Even at that primal age Nkrumah had the vision to build Tema Motor Way how much less in this fast-paced and advance technology age, after 40 years of education and doubled population. How on earth can the government of Ghana justify that Ghana has no money to improve upon our accident-prone road system when she is thinking of a $30 million loan to build or renovate a dwelling for the Presidency? What is the priority of our government? Not long ago it was the increase of benefits and per diem allowances (including $25, 0000 car loans) for our Parliamentarians. Now it is the Presidential dwelling place. One would like to know, when it will be the turn of the people of Ghana, the stakeholders of the country. The government elected and appointed officials of Ghana, apparently, are persistently ignoring their responsibility as custodians of the nation, and acting as if they were the owners. They better wake up from their slumber before the people react in an uncivilized manner. The government must for once listen to the stakeholders of Ghana, the people.

Ghana's many well educated Ministers, the President and Parliament must be able to figure out that by concentrating on improving Ghana's infrastructure, e.g. building of safer roads, Ghana government can create jobs for her own engineers, technicians and other workforce, widen the avenues for rural-to-urban trade and business, and hence generate enough tax revenue, out of which a appropriate presidential residence can be built without even attracting the populace attention.

Ghana can generate a lot of revenue from raising the standards of our Highways to that of the Tema Motor Way, if not better. Even the current Motor Way has its flaws as a modern highway since it lacks entry access roads or exits in its 20 mile stretch. The shameful underpass from East Legon to The Spintex Road is way overdue for redesign and improvement. The benefits of concentrating our efforts in building good roads are well known to include:

a. Road tolls – this can be managed to recoup any invested money in a few years if well managed, as well as provide funds to maintain the roads.

b. Easy access to work and back – saving millions of lost man hours and improved productivity.

c. Fast delivery of services.

d. Commercial boom as a result of easy access to the market, trade among regions; fast and timely transportation of perishable goods and the tax benefits to the government of Ghana.

e. Boost in farm products and farming activities.

f. Transformation of our civil service and public service: workers can report to work on time because the roads are freed up.

g. Many Ghanaians' lives will be saved. How many people die from road accidents in Ghana per year? At an estimate of 30 per week, that is more than 1,600 people, not counting the cost of funerals.

h. If 2 million Ghanaians spend an extra 2 hours per day in traffic, that comes to a waste of 10 hours per week or every 40 hours worked, or a loss in national productivity of more than 1,040 Million hours per year! Even if the average Ghanaian earns $0.75 per hour, that comes to US$780 Million lost to the nation!

Good road design and construction is the responsibility of government, not private citizens. So if there was one major responsibility of government, it should be easy access to transportation not a new Presidential edifice. We do not mean to say that palaces are not important, but given a priority list, that should be way down the bottom. A new presidential residence will not save lives of Ghanaians. The government must PRIORITIZE here. Among the top should be Healthy environment that prevents disease [sewage systems], Transportation, Communication, and Education.

We hereby draw the attention of the public, the government, the lawmakers (parliamentarians) and the Council of State to these losses of lives on our roads, and issue this alert, that after 48 (forty eight) years of independence, Ghana is still constructing double single roads as major highways from the capital city to link the other cities. We believe that the good work started by earlier government of Nkrumah must be continued and must be done now with any moneys collected for the DVL offices and loans contracted. Future generations may not look kindly on this negligence of our generation. Let us do the right thing for our mutual benefit as Ghanaians. Okyere Bonna, Secretary, Ghana Leadership Union For any information, please address them to Okyere Bonna, Secretary, Ghana Leadership Union. Email: [email protected] In Ghana: Contact: Anthony Owusu, 0244-057-566 Email: [email protected] Or Kwaku A. Danso, President: [email protected] Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Okyere Bonna & Bless Berchie
Okyere Bonna & Bless Berchie, © 2005

The author has 33 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: OkyereBonnaBlessBerchie

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