Ref: Market women call for Accra Mayor's head
By: Kwaku A. Danso
It is sad to see an appointed mayor or city chief executive who has become so controversial as mayor Dr. Alfred Vanderpuije. When I was in Ghana in the latter part of 2010, I heard many things about the man,, and most of them are not nice to repeat. It appears the man wants a clean city devoid of signs of poverty, but for some reasons, he is not able to find the right formula. Everybody wants a nice city; but the question is if one can get rid of population growth through an edict when our city inspectors and planners are all dead on the job!
When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, being British or American-trained was a major marketing asset and depicted a higher level of competency! Even hairdressers would paint their signboards "BRITISH TRAINED" and it was an attraction.
Today, can we really say that being American-trained or British-trained is an asset? Or the American and British-trained are only joining the Ghanaian corrupt political gravy train to serve themselves?
Perception, like prejudice, creates an entry barrier for those behind. Other American and British or shall we say Western or foreign-trained professionals lose the luster as a few of them show poor or insensitive performance. Are these people in politics disgracing us American and British-trained? Is there something we can do about it but subtle and overt confrontation? Mayor Vanderpuije seems totally insensitive to such subtle prodding. It thus looks like our American-trained former-School superintendent-made-Mayor missed some of the classes on Leadership. The first one characteristic I personally admire in a leader and many in Ghana want is (1) Individualized Consideration for the suffering people, according to the 4 Is of Transformational Leadership [Influencing change, Intellectual stimulation, Inspired motivation, Individualized consideration] as defined by Prof. Bass & Steidlmeier (in Danso, K.A., 2007,57).
The nice bearded mayor may have good intentions, but his lack of problem-solving skills and personal consideration has made him falter too many times, unable to solve the problems, and alienated many people n the city of Accra. When a team of GLU members tried to meet with him in September-October 2010, he shunned us. Our friend Larry A., who knows the man personally, tried to make an appointment, and the Mayor gave him the running around and kept dodging him. I once drove to Larry's office at Osu form Madina, through 5-6pm time traffic, anxiety level all high, only to find the man did not want to talk to us on phone or give us an appointment, not even picking up his phone at the time he told Larry to call. Who the heck does this man think he is! (Americans may say). Or shall we say "Who born dog"!
I am not known to forgive such nonsense. If the man does not act in the way we were trained in American culture to serve the constituents, then I don't mind saying the President made a mistake in appointing him. Of course that is a reflection on the President himself who has not been able to get his electricians to work on electricity in 2 years!! I have seen Ministers driving with a siren in 5pm traffic and going over the middle dividers in order to take advantage. Why the heck can't these men in leadership redesign and widen the roads! Why is the taxpayer paying for such incompetence in Ghana!!
Not to be personal but anybody who cannot see that the building of modern open gutters with iron rods and cement is not cost effective and lacks long term vision to see that open gutters breeds mosquitoes that cause malaria killing over 55,000 per year, lacks something, in my view. For some strange fate, the mayors of Accra seem to lack vision and it hurts that the President, who they report to also, seem to not exhibit his core vision expressed in some speeches. They are not leaving any positive mark on the city of Accra and that reflects badly on the whole nation. It will be nice to see a President and/or Mayor who can eliminate the ugly smell and squalor that persists with no solution after half a century of just building houses in Accra with no plans and some roads after the buildings are erected. I may be biased, but it is hard to imagine an American-trained person behave this way. However, results are all we can see and judge from.
Ghana has many transportation engineers overseas. Designing a city with highways and traffic corridors, zoning for small strip malls and shopping malls and even providing financing for real estate developers to create zones for small businesses, is all part of planning work of a leader. Every such project creates jobs. President Mills' administration started collecting road and bridge tolls - which I personally had been writing about for years. The government has however failed to give accounts. However using a simple engineering assessment on the Motorway and Kaasoa toll booths alone, one can guesstimate more than $50,000 per day collected, or about $1.5 million per month. At 10% interest for 10 year loan term, the city could generate an additional $238,000 monthly for their operational expenses by lending this to small businesses. That is how money is used to generate money and create jobs. It is very disappointing that our American-trained mayor and British and American-trained President don't seem to possess some of these savvy understanding of the use of money! Begging from outside all the time does not bring any respect for our nation nor for the black man on earth!
A confused or hopeless City Planning Commission and department, added to a possibly insensitive and visionless Mayor, does not speak well for the people of Accra and people of Ghana. It also reflects badly on our President.
General News of Tuesday, 3 May 2011 (Ghanaweb)
Market women call for Accra Mayor's head
The Market Women Association of Ghana (MAWAG) has issued a two week ultimatum to the Accra Mayor to resign for exhibiting high level incompetence in the exercise of his duties or face their wrath.
The group claims Mr Alfred Vanderpuije has failed to rid the city of filth as he promised before taking office. The market women accuse him of gross inhumanity against over 15,000 hawkers whom the Assembly has chased out of the streets without finding alternative business and market centers for them.
They also demand the immediate prosecution of a task force personnel of the Assembly, who allegedly ripped off a hawker's ear in a bid to get him off the streets.
Fredrick Opoku, media relations officer of the association indicated that the case of the alleged human rights abuse by the task force personnel "is a pure criminal matter not AMA and they must understand and respect the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
"I surely believe our member whose ear has been chopped off, has not been treated fairly. If the AMA is to sit on the issue in their offices and don't care about whatever happens, we're saying that because of that negligence on the part of the Mayor, we believe that he has failed and doesn't know whatever he's doing".
The group says Mr Vanderpuije has two weeks to comply with their demands or face the consequences. Frederick Opoku claims the group has about 12,000 members in 15 markets in Accra.
He told Citi News "We would ensure that we move people to the streets for them to demonstrate against the Mayor. Even if Tunisia would happen here, Tunisia must happen in Ghana, we're going to demonstrate till the Mayor steps aside because he's not credible and we can't entertain him any more".
Frederick Opoku however indicated that the association "believes that the mayor's attitude or action is good but the approach is always wrong and this is the time that we bring him to book, that the approach for which he does the thing is wrong and for that matter must be corrected".
The Public Relations Officer of the Assembly, Numo Blafo III would however not respond to the group's demands on grounds that MAWAG is not known to the Assembly.
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Dr. Kwaku A. Danso (At Livermore, California, USA)
President - Ghana Leadership Union (NGO), Moderator-GLU Forum &
Publisher - Global Express Communications
East Legon-Accra, Ghana & Livermore, California, USA
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