13 October 2011

Ghana: Resourcing the 42 New Districts

The government has created 42 new districts, bringing the total districts in the country to 212. Until the announcement by Mr. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, at a durbar of Chiefs, specially arranged to receive President John Evans Atta Mills at Dodowa, at the beginning of the presidential tour of the Greater Accra Region on Tuesday, Ghana had 170 districts.

In the words of the Minister, the new districts have been created as part of the 'Better Ghana' agenda. If that were so, The Chronicle would doff its hat off to a fumbling administration for living up to part, of its responsibility at last.

The fact that all the 42 districts would have to do with a seed money of GH ¢40 million, gave the game away. How do as many as 42 districts, together with offices, residence of the district chief executives and all staff, begin on a meagre GH ¢40 million?

We are not conspiracy theorists, but we are uncomfortable with the creation of as many as 42 districts. The Chronicle would like to hope that with a very difficult election ahead of us in 2012, the exercise was not mooted out of the need for gerrymandering.

Forty-two at a go is quite an unwieldy number to deal with, given the dire state of the economy. The Chronicle hopes that the exercise would not create more problems than the solutions envisaged.

Our understanding is that Ekumfi, otherwise known politically as Mfansteman East, is being carved out of the Mfansteman District. If it were so, would the new district include the Mankessim suburb of Edumadze, which traditionally is part of the Ekumfi Traditional Area, but was added to the Mfansteman West Constituency politically?

Then again, is the problem of siting the head office of the new district for Ekumfi. We learn that the headquarters is being sited at Otuam, said to be the President's hometown, as against the current arrangement, where Essuehyia Junction has hosted the little amenities sited in the Mfansteman East Constituency.

There are quite a number of other simmering difficulties all over the country. For instance, the Awutu-Senya District claims that part of the Ga West Municipality, including where the Municipal offices are located, is part of the landmass of that district.

One would have thought that such a major exercise, as the creation of 42 districts, would have involved more than the Local Government Ministry. As it is, the creation has been sprung on the people. We can only hope that the exercise is carried out properly.

In a country where the construction of a six-room classroom block cost over GH ¢260,000 - The Chronicle does not believe the seed money of GH ¢40 million is enough to get the new 42 districts up and doing.

We would like to call on the Atta Mills administration to find an extra GH ¢40 million to make the new districts stand on their own feet. A new district comes with new district offices for every institution in the land, and they do not come cheap.

With the turmoil on the labour front as a result of the government's inability to meet the demands of professionals, it stands to reason that sharing resources for 42 new districts would be challenging. All the same, we hope the urgency that compelled the government to create the 42 new districts would inform the government to resource them.

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