Ministry's Fire Outbreak Is Ghana's Blessing

Kumasi Fire

Sun, 25 Oct 2009 Source: Boadi-Danquah, Eugene

On the evening of October 21, I was told on the phone of the sudden fire outburst at the 10-storey block of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As would be the initial reaction of every empathetic human, I was more interested in whether there were any human casualties involved. There weren’t, blessing number one already penned down. I could go to bed, with no worries, to catch up with the news the day after.

The caption of this article is not intended to be misleading, or make this piece unwarrantedly eye-catching. I do not intend to drop any puns or pen an iffy piece. So for the sake of folks like me, who hate so much to read, I would keep it simple. I AM EXTREMELY HAPPY THAT OUR MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS BUILDING WAS BURNT DOWN. This statement would come as a shock, to the prejudiced and untrained mind. This is one of the most controversial statements ever put out; but to the discerning mind, well, there could be a bit more reason to this. About 4 months ago, I wrote a letter to the Mayor of Accra, with a controversial caption, “Accra can never be decongested” (still on my blogspot). In one paragraph, I stated emphatically, our need to relocate some or all of our ministries out of the vicinities of the central business district of Accra. In what I termed “Infrastructural decentralization”, I wasted my time to explain the fact that businesses shine off the locations of such buildings due to the lack of a proper and comprehensive address system, which leads to excessive cramming up of space within its vicinities and excessive one-way traffic flow at rush hour periods. In the place of these buildings, multi-storey residential rental flats would be put up, as is done in any country where there are planners, to balance out rush hour traffic inflow with outflow.

I admit this alone does not warrant my use of “Extremely happy”; I get it, but wait till I make my point. Dealing with fire damaged buildings is part of how I earn my living, and I can say with no equivocation that, the photographs that I have seen of the remnants of the building and the reports put out in the media have nothing in common. This is clearly one of the lightest cases of fire damage that anyone could imagine in his life. The entire concrete frame looks perfectly in place to me, and what was destroyed, is mainly the cladding. This is clearly, another plus, not because the cladding only is destroyed; but the fact is, from my view of the cladding on the unaffected storeys, the building ought to have been re-cladded ages ago to befit the status of a public structure to match Accra up with a modern African Capital City. The cladding looks awful, with broken pieces here and there.

If any of our leaders can hear my voice, please this is the time to relocate the first ministry and equally make some money for our country’s coffers. As a professional, I can confirm that in a modern Architectural setting, the building has not lost much value, because the cladding and partitions which were destroyed are worthless anyway. Its value is the frame, and the land it sits on, so “quick”, it can still be traded for a lot of cash that can put up a similar, more modern structure at a different location. I know residential developers will be keen on it.

Aside my jargon and all, I like to bring our attention to the generosity of this fire outburst to us as a country, which we cannot complain about, but only show gratitude to our Heavenly Father for. I am full of smiles as I type this. This fire is a true test of Ghana’s leadership, both past and present. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a strategic and an extremely important ministry. It has been manned by some of our most “gallant” politicians, including Nana Akuffo-Addo and for the past 8 months or so, by the one time deputy commander-in-chief hopeful, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni. With all the noisy campaigns, flirty promises, the time for the simplest litmus test is up. Ghanaians are patiently waiting for the result of the document archiving skills of all the men who have handled this ministry to date. At less than half the age and with less than 10% the experience of these politicians, the 1st thing I would do would be to create a back-up disk to store all relevant documents to the ministry. This is not my “smart” idea, this is just what anyone who has come across the big English word, “TOMORROW” does. This is takes a matter of hours to weeks, a scanner, a couple of National Service personnel and a leader with a foresight to get done. This is the reason why I do not take kindly to those who will turn their eyes to the previous administration for not properly archiving information, because their failures are not to be dwelt upon, but rather mended swiftly.

Seriously, if it does come out that we have lost a single document because of this fire; some men will really lose a great amount of respect from me. (Not that it matters to them)

A lot of readers will find it astonishing that, of all the points that I made, I have not cited the late response of the fire-service to the scene. Well, it’s only because I do not really fancy stating obvious facts. The facts have been laid bare, that the least said about it, the better. As promised, I will not talk about it.

As we all retreat to our closets, and share time with our maker (not go to Pastors for pray-for-me), we should all make it a point to thank the Most High God, that he grants us opportunities like this, to really appreciate what manner of leadership we are imposing on ourselves because of our inability to divorce ourselves from tribal bigotry, baseless arguments and a haste to swallow political pledges hook, line and sinker, without putting our thoughts to test. May God grant us more opportunities like this.


ebdanquah.blogspot.com (eb00026@surrey.ac.uk)

Columnist: Boadi-Danquah, Eugene