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Okoe Vanderpuije’s Beard Flooded Again
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James Kofi Annan
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This week will be exactly one year since Ghana lost nearly 150 persons through an Accra flood. Last week Dr Okoe Vanderpuije, the Mayor of Accra, announced that he has secured $750million from China for the development of AMA. And this announcement came in the wake of another Accra flood a few days ago.

On Tuesday November 6, 2012, Dr. Vanderpuije announced that the AMA has partnered with Conti on a 595 million dollars deal aimed at addressing the Accra sanitation issues, and consequently the perennial flooding problems.

On May 18, 2013, a year after the first announcement, Dr Alfred Oko Vanderpuije was reported to have said Accra Metropolitan Assembly is prepared for the raining season under review. He said as part of measures to achieve this goal, the Assembly has constructed new drains, as well as cleared gutters of filth.

On May 27, less than two weeks after the assurance from the Accra Mayor, it rained for only 45 minutes, and the following was the headline on Myjoyonline.com: “Flood waters sweep through homes; destroy properties in Accra”.

On Thursday June 6, 2014, President John Mahama, again, ordered the Ministry of Finance to release funds for the immediate construction of a drainage system in flood prone areas in Accra. He made this known when he visited areas which were affected by floods the previous day.

On June 4, 2015, after the Circle flood and fire disaster, this is what President John Mahama said “This loss of life is catastrophic, almost unprecedented. A lot of people have lost their lives. We have to take measures to avoid these floods in the future”.

The next day, President Mahama set out flood prevention and disaster risk reduction plans in Accra. In a statement the president said that the government has allocated GHC50 million to help not only the victims, but also to enable the city authorities prevent future occurrence of the floods.

Last week, just last week, it rained for a few minutes, and there was a huge flood in Accra, and a lot of properties were destroyed, including a reported lost of lives. In the wake of this, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo announced to Citi FM that the Government has released $10million for the desilting of major drains in Accra and Tema, to deal with their perennial flooding problems.

So I agree with the musician Sarkodie, “Money no be problem”. The AMA has received sufficient money in any imaginable amount to have been able to deal with these floods in Accra.

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly spends millions of cedis in salary payments for a large numbers of city guards. One of the roles of the city guards is to ensure that people do not liter indiscriminatorily. The Assembly also pays several million cedis to sanitation companies to collect and dispose waste in the city. There are also sanitary inspectors and environmental officers whose duties are to enforce the Assembly’s bylaws on sanitation.

The city of Accra generates about 2200 tons of garbage daily. The Assembly requires about GHC550,000.00 per month (GHC6.6million per year) to pay waste contractors and maintain a landfill site, and this per their own estimate, is all they need to prevent choked gutters and to prevent floods in the city.

The list of the reasons why Accra must never flood again can go on and on. But Accra continues to flood. So what are we using all those monies and human resources for? Why do we still have floods Dr Okoe Vanderpuije? Why do we still have choked gutters when we have city guards?

This is one of the most challenging articles I have written in recent times. Imbued in this article is the temptation for me to ask Dr Okoe Vanderpuije to step down, although I fear his political patrons might misinterpret my intentions.

But this is exactly the point. Political patronage is threatening genuine voices, and suppressing expression. Everything in this country has been subjected to NDC NPP battle, and this is silencing those who do not want to be seen in any of those two colors. And this is allowing our leaders to have a field day. They act with impunity. They perform abysmally.

They behave wrongly, and they rely on political patronage to protect themselves. They demoralize genuine intentions by polluting the voices of right holders, and this enables them to hang on to office, and to continue to perpetuate their filth on us.

We need to change this, and we need to see a crop of people who will refuse to be afraid of the political evangelists. We need people with purely apolitical intentions, those who are fearless about holding office holders accountable for their actions, inactions and performance.

It is ok to belong to a political party. It is ok to have a political sympathy. But it is not ok to support public office holders who do wrong, it is not ok to support public office holders who perform poorly and rely on your support to hold on to office and still fail to perform. We must be able to denounce them, and we must force them to suffer the consequences of poor performance, and poor behavior.

Martin Luther King Jr once said “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right”.

Recently the Minister of Local Government, Alhaji Collins Dauda, criticized the high cost and inferior quality of state funded projects as against private projects. He wondered why, although such government-sponsored projects are more expensive than those funded by private entities, the private sponsored projects usually have a longer lifespan and are of higher quality.

He wondered for instance why a six-classroom block constructed in the same locality by private companies with similar materials bought from the same market and the same kind of labor tended to produce better quality structures at lower cost than the one executed by government agencies.

Alfred Vanderpuije
These are the voices I look forward to hearing, a core Government Cabinet Minister raising his voice within.

In 1991 when I was a teenager preparing for my BECE examinations, when I needed my father the most, he decided to, while still married to my mother, marry a young woman, and brought her to live in our family house. My father was then nearly 80 years old while the young woman was estimated at 27 years old. And this was the time when my mother, his maiden wife, had given him 12 children already, with me being the last born.

I opposed my father’s action, and even though I was only a teen, I did everything possible to frustrate that ill-timed marriage. He had the backing of his siblings and my siblings so I became a lonely voice, and a bad rebelling rejected son. But I did not give up until my actions separated them. It was almost too late. The young woman gave birth to a son for my father by the time the separation happened.

I had two reasons for my action. First I did not have anyone to cater for my education and feeding. I did all manner of work including fishing, vegetable farming, splitting firewood, plugging coconuts, begging and very obnoxious scavenging in order to feed myself and to pay for my school fees. And my father claimed he did not have money to help me. If he had money to take care of another woman, then he should use that money to pay for my fees and to feed me.

My second reason was that at almost 80, my father, then a peasant farmer who did not have any Social Security, was too elderly to be able to care for the additional children he was giving birth to, and I predicted that those children he was bringing forth were going to become destitute.

True to my word, four years after Kweku Annan was born (from the new wife) my father could not farm again because he had become so weak. The consequence was that he, just as it happened to me, sent this boy into forced labor on Lake Volta, exactly what I predicted. After I graduated from the university, it took me nearly four years to be able to find Kweku, and for me to send him to school when he was already 14 years old.

Kweku, at the time he returned from slavery, had so many medical complications. So beside feeding, clothing, and paying for his education, I was also paying thousands of Cedis in medical expenses to help him survive. Unfortunately he died a couple of years ago. Imagine what would have happened if I had kept quiet for my father to produce more children?

When we raise our voices, society may reject its sound, but the pitch will remain with humanity. As young people you have high pitches, so use them.

We must have in ourselves a crop of young people who, even if they have future political leadership intentions, are truly inspired to act, to demand answers regardless of the lineage of their political intentions and patronage.

Such a crop of people must be brutal in their spirit that the nation Ghana was bequeathed to us as of right, and we have a responsibility to protect and enhance its integrity, to be able to bequeath to our children a better condition than what was given to us, and this is the right of our children, to receive a better Ghana from us.

If we do not demand answers now, these public office holders will continue their messing spree and they will leave office without being accountable, and we will spend the rest of our lives looking for solutions to clean their mess.

More importantly I am expecting young tertiary students and graduates who are supposed to be the light of their communities, to raise their voices and to raise issues, and to challenge the status quo, regardless of their political affiliation or sympathy or even the smear campaign they risk.

Just imagine if Accra was someone’s company, and the company had all these monies to construct drainage, to stop people from building on water ways, to manage waste, and to stop people from throwing rubbish into drains. Will Okoe Vanderpuije still be at post as the Managing Director in these floods, in this mess?
Source: James Kofi Annan/ email: [email protected]

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