EDITORIAL: Accra - Destination Or Gateway?
THE CHRONICLE has on more than one occasion commented on the poor state of sanitation in the nation's capital, Accra. We have done so because like any responsible corporate citizen resident within the city, it is our bounden duty to help in any way we can, the city authorities and residents to wake up to their responsibility to make it a place worth living in.
A couple of days ago, the President, John Agyekum Kufuor, whilst meeting a delegation of the Ga Traditional Council, called on Ga chiefs to help in making the city worth its tag as the gateway to the West African sub-region.
He pointed out that Accra has grown astronomically fast with little or no planning and warned that if things were not properly done, the city in general, and many of its suburbs, would be nothing but glorified slums in the near future.
Indeed, when the new Mayor, Mr. Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson was recently appointed, The Chronicle wasted no time congratulating and exhorting him to bring his rich experience and no-nonsense approach to bear on the administration of the city. We pointed out that the immediate problem was that of sanitation, especially the ubiquitous plastic waste littering every nook and cranny of the city.
The mayor went to town on this matter, promising us that we would see a visible change within a 100 days of his administration. After a number of clean-up campaigns however, the problem seems to persist. Accra still remains dirty, dusty and over-crowded.
The Chronicle wonders whether the mayor has, after only a few months in power, been totally overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. Or could it be that he is facing the problem of logistics in terms of funds, facilities and spirited support?
Take the problem of plastic waste for instance. When the mayor demanded that manufacturers of plastic packaging and sachet water producers should pay an amount towards the cleaning of the city, we felt that he had begun well by going to the root of the matter.
However, things did not go his way as the producers felt the amount asked for was too much. So far, it seems that matter has been relegated, as usual, to the backburner.
Another matter worth mentioning, is that of the squatters at Sodom and Gomorrah whose continued stay at the unauthorized site is holding up the continuation of the multi-million dollar Korle Lagoon Reclamation Project.
The government has lost and continues to lose millions of scarce foreign exchange through the non-resolution of this problem and The Chronicle wonders whether the losses would not increase the cost of the project beyond economic viability.
The city of Accra, as the President pointed out, has grown and indeed is growing so fast that some drastic action must be taken now if it is to be known as the gateway to the sub-region.
We are completely nonplussed at the responsibility of the Ministry of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City headed by Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey. Two years and more into its creation, that ministry has not done much to beautify the national capital.
Accra is not very tourist-friendly: poor sanitation, inadequate amenities, no street lights, few green areas for relaxation and so on have plagued the city.
How do we expect tourists to come here when things are so poorly organized? Anybody who has seen Abidjan for instance, before the present turmoil, will swear that Accra is just a village, an overgrown and disorganized one at that!
The metropolitan authority must be up and about, else we can forget all this hype about making Accra a gateway.
Accra should be a DESTINATION, not a gateway.