Business News of 2014-01-21

Comment: Making Accra the Dubai of the West Coast

The rains came unexpectedly and heavily. It was about the peak of the dry season and there were no dark clouds to give any warning.

That was Monday, December 30, 2013. In a way, some people might have seen the unexpected heavy downpour in Accra and other parts of the country at the peak of the harmattan as God's own way of cleansing the country of the dirt of the fading year and preparing it for a fresh start.

In a way, it also reminded us that our capital city and most of our cities and towns needed much redemption in terms of better planning and good road networks.

That last heavy rain of 2013 forced the shallow and choked drains to spill their waste materials onto the roads and streets of the capital. We all know the type of materials harboured in the drains or gutters in Accra and the other big towns. They have been categorised into solid and liquid waste and what constitutes the two is well known to us, including the city authorities.

For those to spill onto the streets a day before we enter a new year was not a pleasant sight to behold.

Perhaps one of the things we are going to benefit from President John Mahama's vacation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the last days of 2013 and the early part of 2014 is his resolve or personal pledge to make Accra look like Dubai, the largest city in the UAE.

Apparently impressed with the beauty of Dubai, with its skyscrapers, flyovers, and wide asphalted roads, President Mahama told himself and Ghanaians that by the time he left office, Accra would take the form of Dubai.

Truly, Accra needs major infrastructural development in terms of roads, drains, sanitation and waste management.

Accra has expanded both in size and population without any corresponding development in roads especially and other facilities. The same roads that were carrying a few hundred vehicles decades ago, are now carrying thousands upon thousands.

The problem is more evident at the roundabouts that have become bottlenecks in the city's vehicular movement. It is a sad spectacle to see the frustration on the faces of motorists at such places as the Danquah Circle, the Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, the Akuafo Intersection at the 37 Military Hospital, the Airport Roundabout and many other places in the national capital.

The Ring Road, which cuts through the centre of the city, is like a worn-out carpet — a complete eyesore. Our national capital does not portray Ghana as a country rich in gold and other precious minerals, cocoa and lately oil and gas.

Tema, the Port City, has not fared any better. The Beach Road linking the capital to Tema tells a story of national decay. A lot has been said about the Accra-Tema Motorway which has seen its glorious days and now serves as a reminder of the vision of President Kwame Nkrumah, the founder of modern Ghana, and his ambition to make a case for Black Africa.

Turning Accra into a Dubai may sound too ambitious but it is not impossible. Ghana has the resources which could easily change the face of Accra and other cities only if our leaders would direct these resources into national development.

Dubai did not fall from heaven. It was the oil and gas revenue of the UAE that turned that sandy and barren desert into a haven so attractive to world leaders, including our President, as a holiday destination.

All we need to do is husband our resources and stop our revenue from entering private pockets and use it for our national growth, and Dubai will be nothing but an ordinary city.

Apart from the President's ambition to replicate Dubai in Ghana, there are many parts of this country that could be developed into holiday resorts to bring money to us and also change the economic fortunes of the local people.

Our problem has never been with resources but those who apply the resources. While wishing the President well in his own set target, I will suggest we take a look at Abidjan, which is just next door, and see whether we are not looking too far before setting our targets.

By: Kofi Akordor

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