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16.09.2005 Feature Article

Row over Peduase Lodge ¢129bn Renovation- A Rejoinder

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Back in September 9, 2005, Ghanaweb published an article culled from the Ghanaian Chronicle with the above title. A careful observation of the said article would show the Chronicle merely quoted ordinary people in the streets, of which quotations they could have just picked from Ghanaweb SIL, just to whip up sentiments against the ruling NPP government. And if tabloid forum is where a newspaper conducts a straw poll then you know they can't be held very serious given the quality of some of the responses we get on these forums. All the same it can be argued the Chronicle could have gone to the horse's own mouth, - the source -, to get the minister of Works and Housing, Hackman Owusu Agyeman, input instead of planting monetary estimates here and there and asking people for their reactions when they hardly have full knowledge of the total package.

I believe in prioritizing our needs but yet still we can't just dismissively argue all or most roads should be tarred first or all or most Ghanaians should be provided portable clean water first before we consider national structures and facilities. If you have many farms or wives you visit all of them, you can't let anyone of them go total waste before you return to it or her. A stitch in time saves nine and Peduase Lodge, when it was first built by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory, Ghana still needed some infrastructural needs like schools and hospitals, yet it was built side by side those infrastructural needs and developments. Don't we find it a shame that almost 50 years after independence we continue to host visiting foreign dignitaries solely in hotels? For how long can we continue to invite or receive, say a foreign president, and just put him in a hotel room, not built to receive such dignitaries and emissaries in mind?

I have had time to reflect on this topic since it first popped up last week and I think we should go ahead full steam before we hit a snag of monumental national shame, disaster and disgrace. In less than just two years Ghana would be celebrating its Golden Jubilee, which is 50 years of independence. In the year 2007, precisely March 6, 2007, the whole wide world would turn its eyes and lenses to focus on Ghana, if not for any reason; it would be like Africa and Commonwealth Peer Review extraordinaire, Ghana being the first sub-Saharan black Africa country to gain independence from the white colonialists. The whole Africa would be invited, much as the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. What picture will we present if and when we roll the welcoming red carpet? A dilapidated Peduase Lodge outgrown by weeds and occupied by Akuapim mountains giant rats? Are we conscious or down right stupid?

The Peduase Lodge is not a single building but a complex of buildings set in a congenial scenic mountain top that can host a number of dignitaries. We should disgrace money rather than be caught wetting our pants in front of the whole world. President Kufour should go full steam ahead in rehabilitating the Peduase Lodge, Flag Staff House etc. We would never get the chance to celebrate another 50 years unless of course 50 years of coup d'etats and economic stagnations thanks in part by our own military. Can we sit back and receive tongue trashing or lashing from the world press? Do you see my drift? The day of reckoning is fast approaching and like it or not we shall be compared to Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and the like. Then we would realize our folly for following around national saboteurs who come (came?) under the guise of National Liberation Council, National Redemption Council, Supreme Military Council, Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and Provisional National Defense Council. You tell me, which and what liberation, redemption, military supremacy or defense did we get? Our enemies lived within and among us, and we bought the khakis and guns for them unfortunately.

Having said all that above, I would like to quickly add that I think the amounts involved are way too much unless we are not only going to upgrade existing facilities and buildings but to add NEW ones to them. $30 million alone for the presently existing Peduase Lodge without any extension; somebody should call in quantity surveyors and building technicians. Such an amount should raise some eye brows and query, not later but before we put a single spade to the ground. In all things we should strive to get maximum value for our money, prioritize and obtain some semblance of monetary and fiscal policy balance. Think, Ghana we must think, very fast, deep, and far into the now and future. We need the same brains and analysis that went to build the Akosombo Dam, KNUST, Tema Harbor, and Motorway, not a white elephant. Watch my words, I said white elephant, I didn't say the NPP's elephant. Don't go and make any complaints about me.

Up there in the north there is a university called University of Development Studies. I hear the students collect rain water from roof tops sometimes to drink. They lack almost everything including proper and adequate accommodation. And these are students supposed to come into mainstream body politick after their studies to help us develop. If we can get a $30 million dollar loan for Peduase Lodge alone, where all the president's men would go and make merry with their “asa bonee” (break dance?), and sometimes with young college girls, girlfriends and concubines, what stops them from going for similar loans if not even more, for UDS which would be of benefit to the whole country for generations to come?

Left to me, I would suggest the government should scale back its involvement and rather seek a joint venture with the private sector on this Peduase Lodge project. The state can have ON-DEMAND user rights to the place as at and whenever the need arise basis, while the private venture capital operates the place for profit. That is the way to go when you don't have the money yourself. Just think of the millions we can save instead of using state borrowed money, plus the countless number of staff and watchmen over the years that would be needed to maintain the place whilst we wait for some foreign heads of states or dignitaries to roll into town. In between the waits, the private capital could be running the place like a resort, pay taxes, employ Ghanaians and be making capital investments in the place.

Is anybody home, JAK, where are you? I would suppose you know a thing or two about hotels and resorts. We must apply the principles involved in the Golden Age for Business. A government owned Lodge that hardly gets used 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days in a year; a very bad, bad, idea. Doesn't make monetary and fiscal sense.

Eric Kwasi Bottah, alias Oyokoba Philadelphia, PA USA Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Ato Aidoo
Ato Aidoo, © 2005

The author has 31 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: AtoAidoo

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