Can the new Regions Commission look into new administrative capital for Ghana?

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 Source: Nana Yaw Osei

Tell me about the last time you desired for a part time job to supplement family income. Naturally, there is nothing impossible unless impossibility happens. But for traffic jams, combining two or three jobs in the city of Accra could be a terrific experience for some workaholic individuals. It happened to me some years back when I took part in High School Vacation classes in the city. I had come from Eastern Region to teach students enrolled in the aforesaid classes. I taught within Action Progressive Institute at both Madina and Kwame Nkrumah Circle Campuses. I was also teaching at Achimota Senior High School vacation school. I had to resign from one position because traffic situation in Accra became my mean friend!

This, I believe could happen to many enterprising young men in Accra or Kumasi. Arguably, economic development is an art rather than a science. Besides, from Marrakesh to Maputo and Dakar to Dar es Salaam, many African countries are on the verge of capital city modernization and decongestion rampages. This partly explains why I think telling a story about the suffocating city of Accra is without a scintilla of mischief. The horrifying tales of city flood and gas explosion carnages must goad us equally to think of the suffering city of Accra. “President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has inaugurated a 9-member Commission of Inquiry to begin the process of collating views for the creation of the proposed three new regions” (Sources: ghanaweb.com, Thursday October 19, 2017). Could it not be appropriate and practical if President Akufo-Addo also task the Commission to collate opinions about the creation of a new political and administrative capital for Ghana? In that case Accra becomes a business capital, as it happens elsewhere in the world.

It will be a demonstration of hypocrisy if we think that vehicular traffics in the City of Accra, almost invariably verging on paralytic in some cases do not bequeath to us unbearable nightmares. Apart from vehicular traffics, petty traders and some criminals who have been enveloping the pedestrians’ pathways in the major thoroughfares of the city slow down economic development. Attempts by Accra Metropolitan Assembly, especially under Messrs. Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson and Alfred Oko Vanderpuije to decongest some parts of Accra did not come without howls of outrage especially from individuals who felt their sources of livelihood could be threatened with such moves. Apart from the fact that petty traders swarming all over the pavements of Accra have remained obdurate to city decongestion exercises carried out by the authorities, millions of Ghana’s financial resources are channelled into such exercises every now and then. This means thinking of a new administrative and political capital for Ghana to be called “Ghana City” or moving it to Sunyani will be a spectacular decision. The idea of relocating political and administrative capitals is not uncommon globally.

For example, Tanzanians made plans to relocate their administrative and political capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma in 1973. The legislature of Tanzania was moved from the former capital to Dodoma in 1996. Dodoma is the third largest city in Tanzania, but now, it is the administrative and political headquarters of that country. Besides, in 1983, President Houphouet-Biogny moved the administrative and political capital of Ivory Coast to Yamoussoukro. In 1991, Nigerians moved their administrative and political capital from Lagos to a planned city of Abuja. Evidence of capital city relocation outside Africa abounds.

In 1961, a planned city of Brasilia became the administrative and political capital of Brazil because the former capital of Rio de Janeiro was very overcrowded, a city. In 1997, Kazakhstan relocated its capital from Almaty to Astana. Similarly, in 2005, Myanmar (Burma) relocated its capital from Rangoon to Naypyidaw. In 2014, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina hinted that plans were underway to relocate the capital from Buenos Aires to Santiago del Estero. Russia also transferred its capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg and then relocated to Moscow again. In geographical terms, Russia is both in the continent of Asia and Europe. The relocation of capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg originally aimed at drawing Russia closer to Western Europe. Czar Peter the Great, founded St. Petersburg as Russia’s window to Western Europe.

Washington DC was founded to neutralize the rivalry between New York, Philadelphia and Boston over a capital city of USA. In Canada, Ottawa became the linguistic neutral capital between the anglophone Toronto and the francophone Quebec City. Australian made Canberra a capital city to curb the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne.

The history of relocating political headquarters could be mentioned ad infinitum. Historically, the capital of Gold Coast was transferred from Cape Coast to Accra in 1877. Evidenced by the foregoing examples, the biggest cities are not always political headquarters. For instance, the largest city in Brazil is Sao Paulo but the administrative capital is Brasilia. Washington DC, a planned capital of USA is not the largest city in the country. Canberra is not the biggest city in Australia. How long must we continue to be inundated with gory stories of flooding, gas explosion, Land Guard “gangsterism” and armed robbery in Accra? I met a Norwegian in Phoenix, Arizona last year. She deduced from my name that I was [am] from Ghana. She had been to Ghana before. I was curious to know from her, her perception about Ghana. I heard with a stark horror that she described Accra as a city crowded with sign boards. I had not even thought of sign boards in my capital. I guess I am not whining, honorable Ahamka-Lindsay!

Certainly not! The time to give Ghana a facelift regarding political capital is now. Many of us are astounded by the development pace of President Paul Kagame’s capital city of Kigali. Visionary Kwame Nkrumah constructed the industrial city of Tema for modern Ghana. Good things they say are not cheap and cheap things are at times not good! We can built a new capital for Ghana or relocate it to Sunyani! Sunyani is not only strategically located but an administrative capital of Prime Minister Busia’s region. My president, do something for Busia before you die! We need a bold leader like president Akufo-Addo to relocate Ghana’s capital or built a planned capital. We can do it! God bless our homeland Ghana! Long live our good leaders!

By: Nana Yaw Osei, Minnesota, USA. N_yawosei@hotmail.com

Columnist: Nana Yaw Osei