There was drama in the studios of Multimedia's JoyFM Saturday, when Felix Kwakye Ofosu, a former Deputy Communications Minister in the erstwhile Mahama-led administration, explicitly blamed the ruling government for the pedestrian deaths on the Madina-Adenta highway, and its subsequent public backlash.
To Mr Kwakye Ofosu, considering the amount of work the previous administration did on the over 5 kilometer stretch of road, the Akufo-Addo government should have completed the project in the blink of an eye, especially the footbridges, but failed to do so because it did not consider it a priority.
Thus, he said, it is quite nauseating to see government officials in the wake of last week's demonstrations, apportion blame to the NDC for it's dereliction of duty.
“it is surprising that even in the wake of this violent demonstration, we have had government officials refuse to take responsibility and go ahead to push blame on the previous administration. And if you follow that feedback that has emerged and the public backlash that government officials who have spoken this way have received, it shows clearly that the citizenry is not prepared for that kind of narrative anymore and that government simply should own up, take responsibility and do what needs to be done,” he said during a panel discussion on the Newsfile programme.
He asserted that at the time the NDC left office in 2016, about 90% of the job had been done; adding that "concrete slabs and pillars had been erected for footbridges to serve pedestrians. What was left was some finishing touches that would ensure that it was in good shape for pedestrians to use."
“Two years in my view is sufficient for the government to have fixed these footbridges. They have had plenty of opportunity and resources to do it. It does appear that they did not prioritise the completion of these footbridges. Because in terms of scope and scale, it is minimal compared to the overall size of that project. Having assumed office it was the duty of the government to complete it but if you do not complete it and people complain and they stage demonstrations, you need to be sincere and candid and admit that there was some laxity or lapse in your approach.”
But the Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, slammed him for his "selective amnesia" and seeking to politicize the issue.
Accusing the former Deputy Communications Minister of attempting to exclude the NDC from their "line of responsibility" just to simply "gain partisan political capital", the seasoned journalist, citing official documents, revealed that the project stalled as far back as 2014 due to lack of funds; almost two years before the NDC lost power.
“Page 49 of the document details progress on traffic lights and footbridges. On traffic lights it said only metal poles are currently in position. On streetlights, works have commenced and 23 solar lights installed at six different locations. On footbridges, works have reached an appreciable stage on the six footbridges. The main elements outstanding on the footbridges are the approaches, landings and guard raids. The outstanding works can be aggregate at 25 percent...so anybody who comes to tell you that by December 2016 the contractor was working, tell the person that I say he is peddling an obvious untruth, not a lie,” he said.
According to him, “this selective amnesia that informs our discourse because we seek partisan advantage, otherwise my brother (Kwakye Fosu) should have also considered that if by 2014 this was the status of the footbridge and from 2014 to 2016 they couldn’t deliver but you are able to question why this administration also has not delivered, then they are excluding their line of responsibility to gain partisan political capital”.
Mr Baako's remarks stopped the NDC activist in his tracks, clearly disarming him.
Residents of Adenta and its environs went on rampage Thursday by burning car tyres on the highway to register their protest over the rampant killing of people on the highway due to lack of footbridges and government’s inaction on the issue.
The violent protests came after an 18-year-old student of West African Secondary School (WASS), was knocked down and killed by a taxi driver on the dangerous N4 freeway on Thursday.
Their action forced government to take action on the uncompleted footbridges with the Ministry of Roads and Highways announcing that work on the six (6) uncompleted pedestrian bridges in Adenta will commence within a week.
Temporarily, the Ministry in collaboration with the Interior Ministry, requested the Ghana Police Service to deploy officers of the Motor Traffic Unit to prevent further deaths.
In the course of their protest, the Police fired shots and tear gas at the agitated crowd in a bid to control them.
The highway has claimed close to 200 lives this year; deaths, residents blame on a lack of footbridges, road markings and defective traffic lights.
Police say its preliminary investigations into the rioting show that its personnel employed the appropriate riot control methods.
The service discounted assertions that it used excessive force in restoring calm to the area after reports emerged that a stray bullet grazed a elderly woman but lodged in her 14-year-old son's thigh.
It admits, however, that “in the process, a boy of fourteen years was injured and was treated and discharged at the Nyaho Clinic in Accra. There is no record of any other injuries related to the riot control.”
According to the police, the taxi driver who knocked and killed the young lady has been arrested and is in police custody.