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Opinion: Reflecting on My Observations in Ghana
 
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31-Dec-2009  
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This past summer, I visited Ghana for the first time since 1996 when I went to bury my mother. The more exciting thing about my visit is that I brought four of my five children and my wife with me.

It was their first visit to Ghana. Before you ask about the fifth child who didn’t come with me, she was in Ghana the March before we went and she got to stay for almost one month. It was her third visit to Ghana. I must say they all enjoyed Ghana very much. They all look forward to going there again. This article, however, is not about our visit to Ghana. It is about a few observations that I made during the visit.

First, I got a complaint that my nephew took a bank loan to do business and the first thing he did after he got the loan was buy a car. I asked him about it. He said that he was entitled to a car allowance from his government job. If he didn’t have a car, he couldn’t claim that allowance. I immediately reflected on the sewer problems that started under former President Rawlings.

The former President said the government “couldn’t do it” and therefore the government wouldn’t do it. It looked to me like the government could continue the car allowance and did continue the car allowance. It obviously provides an incentive for people to purchase cars. Car allowance should have been among the first on the chopping block before fund for services were cut. Considering only the traffic problems in Ghana, doesn’t the government of Ghana need to revisit the car allowance to help reduce the incentive it provides people to purchase cars? It is a relic from colonial days.

Second, I was in traffic with my brother in Accra at one time and I asked him how much he paid on his car a year. He said all he had to pay was a one time registration of his car and the maintenance of his road worthy certificate. He didn’t have to pay anything else. I asked him if he would pay five cedis a month to help maintain the roads and get rid of all the pot holes. He asked me, “why not?”

Reflecting on this idea, I thought that the government could have car owners pay 60 cedis or so each year to help maintain the roads that they drive on. If the government can’t fill pot holes with coal tar, they can at least have maintenance crew go around and fill pot holes with dirt weekly or twice a week or so. It will help provide employment and help keep a certain level of road integrity. Even if the government is planning a more reliable maintenance program, regular contribution from car owners should be a part of it.

Third, I couldn’t help but notice the speed humps on the major roads and the frequency of them. Along with the speed humps, I noticed sign boards that proclaimed how many people died at certain spots and urging drivers to slow down. Also, I noticed how fast the SUV’s went over the speed humps, especially to pass cars that have slowed down to go over the speed humps. I wondered if the sign boards and their messages and the speed humps have made any difference in the number of people dying on the roads.

Reflecting on this, I came to believe that placing a median in the roads to separate opposing traffic directions and clearing woods on either side of the roads to provide passing lanes to traffic, even if un-tarred, will help reduce the many head-on collisions that are taking so many lives on the roads in Ghana far and above what the speed humps will do. The government can surely do this while seeking permanent solutions to our road problem.

 
 
 
Source: Tony Pobee-Mensah
 
 

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