It was a journey to nowhere. That painful voyage to Deve happened somewhere in June this year. It was eventful, circuitous and revealing.
Deve is in the North-Tongu District of the Volta Region. There was a Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) Centre to be commissioned.
CHPS compounds form the base of the health delivery system in Ghana. So many are located in the hinterland and Deve was a real hinterland. That at Deve is s four-room one.
Getting there was a puzzle, as there is no direct link from Battor, the District capital, for the Volta Lake sprawled between. You can get there by boat anyway.
The four-vehicle convoy of the North Tongu District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr. Richard Collins Arku, therefore, made a detour through Sogakope, the South Tongu District capital, via the Lower Volta Bridge on the Accra-Aflao Highway, then to Adidome, the Central Tongu District capital, on the Sogakope-Ho road, from where the actual 15-kilometer journey to Deve started.
There was not even a feeder road to Deve shortly after Adidome, except uncountable cattle paths, the area being home to kraals.
The vehicles meandered and navigated through shrubs and the animal paths, as each driver tried all skills to move on, all four vehicles running parallel sometimes as on in major highways or desert drives.
At a point two of the vehicles, those of the Health and Agricultural Directorates, on which were the Assembly's Project Inspectorate staff, took a different direction rightwards and finally got lost from those of the DCE and the District Coordinating Director on which were journalists.
With heavy rains the night before and pools of water all over, there were twists and turns.
Even local commercial motor riders, could be seen stopping and observing to avoid being stuck.
The DCE and the Coordinator's convoy moved on for a while without meeting a community.
Just as we feared we could be lost, we hit a two-house homestead, which we were told later is known as Kpota.
Not even a single mobile communication network was available in the area to enable phone coordination between our team and the others, who were on the other two cars.
A girl aged about 17, in loincloth up her breast, darted from her room, flagged at the convoy to stop, and having obeyed, she told us we were lost and redirected us back on track.
Not too long, the convoy again hit some impenetrable bush made up of shrubs and short trees, forcing the team to return to the girl's village.
She accepted to go with the lost politician and bureaucrats and together with her younger brother, joined the front seat in the Coordinator's pickup to direct us to Deve.
Deve indeed was where she was schooling but dropped out at primary three, three years earlier.
Journalist of course wanted to know why Julie, that’s her name, dropped out of school. Poverty, she stated.
Two kilometers daily trekking to school on an empty stomach mostly and another two kilometers walk back was too much, and she quit.
Even with her on board, getting the correct bearing was difficult as Julie had never gone there in a vehicle.
Julie, who is the fourth child of 11 siblings, told the inquisitive journalists that only rickety pickup vehicles came that way for cattle or charcoal once a while.
Some of her siblings, she said were residing with their older two sisters, who were with husbands in other towns.
She said her parents stopped cultivating cassava and pepper to burn charcoal to fend for the family because of destructions caused by the cattle.
The convoy finally arrived at Deve, without the DCE's vehicle, because it got stuck in the mud, forcing him to trek about 200 metres to the commissioning grounds. Youth dashed for implements to dig out the vehicle.
Mr. Arku, later told journalists, "I have seen the difficulty these people live in. It would be difficult for even motorbikes to bring the sick and pregnant women here, let alone travel in and out daily".
"We had to meander our way through bushes here and there, got lost and had to pick that girl and her brother as guide. This is a real experience that cannot be glossed over", he recounted.
Mr. Arku promised to contact the Ghana Highways and Feeder Road Authorities for a quick decision adding, "it may not necessarily be a tarred road but at least a feeder road for now, to enable the communities access the facility".
The tortuous journey had showed in practical ways that there were many Ghanaian children still not in school, healthcare was still too far from some communities, many communities were still unlinked with roads and that the problem between cattle owners and farmers was lingering on and affecting agricultural productivity
Julie got some cash close to GHC80 on the journey back, as all including journalist gave her money, but she is probably lost to formal education forever.
Akuta, Zomayi, Aglubakpo, Lokokpo, Agbesukpedu and Ayigokope, which are also communities benefiting from the facility, do not have roads linking Deve, let alone to Adidome the nearest major town.
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