It is by no means an easy task to begin to dream of a clean Accra! Oh yes, especially that over-congestion and lack of education compounded over the years by a dogged inhuman craving to become rich no matter the cost, even if it came at the expense of the general health and sanity, has been the impetus in the proliferation of such attitudinal anarchy.
I remember growing up in the seventies, eighties, and right through the nineties, the situation was not as deplorable as President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo came to meet it in 2017. His resolve to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa suffered a stalemate when the beasts in the sanitation industry leached on the meagre resources to manipulate the system and launder undeserved money into their pockets.
However, when Henry Quartey was appointed by the President as the Greater Accra Regional Minister, and, subsequently, endorsed by Parliament, I knew that the dream to make Accra the cleanest and most beautiful city in Africa may finally be achievable after all. And I was not mistaken.
He laced his boots and stepped out onto the streets with the security forces to begin the painful process of uprooting the canker that became the ulcer of our beautiful Accra. The Adenta and Madina Zongo footbridges that were highly politicised by an incompetent opposition were being neglected by pedestrians, the same people who cried wolf over its absence. If offenders were arrested and jailed, the government suffered! If offenders were arrested and fined, corrupt officials would take a bribe to release them! That was why immediate punishment became the only option to name and shame recalcitrant individuals such that the humiliating experience would be the deterrent going forward! Today there is sanity at these hotspots, and the bridges are now in proper use! Well done!
In many places, Honourable Quartey has been able to make an impact by removing the entrenched cancer from the roadsides. Unnecessary traffic congestions due to indisciplinedacts ofcommercial drivers, caused partly by vendors who have overtaken the streets to peddle their goods, have stalled development of the country. Time is of essence, and if one has to drive for two to three hours to get to a destination for an important national business, then it becomes problematic and chaotic trying to arrive on time. This is in part why some officials resort to escorts and haphazard driving (with no defence for such actions). When it comes to nation building, personal comfort may have to be overlooked for the general good.
Making Accra clean and beautiful is not about painting bridges and intersections as we have seen in a few instances like the Ako Adjei interchange (Sankara). It entails much more than that; a radical approach to a stubborn situation stiffened by the hardened hearts of unpatriotic people who feel that they are at liberty to do what they need to and leave the filth for the government to clean after them. The Odaw River that has persistently flooded due to the massive sea of waste, covering the entire stretch from Alajo through Korlegonor to the ocean, is a pertinent result of our nightmarish attitudes. This unacceptable situation has inadvertently added to Mr Quartey's will to ensure that the right thing is done because it also has negative effects on his constituency. So when you are wondering why his constituents love him, remember that this no-nonsense giant is doing all in his power to ameliorate their living conditions! I suffered the worst impact of the perennial Odaw River floods in 1994 when my paint factory at Avenor went under several feet of water. I lost thousands of gallons of paint and tonnes of colour pigments that painted the whole neighbourhood, red, green, yellow, blue, pink, ash, black! What a disaster that was!
Let us, also, support Henry to deal with hooligans at the traffic lights and intersections! Those unrepentant criminals who forcibly try to clean windscreens and attack drivers have upgraded themselves to carrying knives and guns! Public safety is prime on his agenda, and though he has hit the ground running, the impediments are overwhelming. He has brought to the RCC a well thought-out plan, a roadmap, if you like, and will implement it to the last word. However, if we are not supportive and do not put shoulder to bumper, no exercise of great national cause will have any meaning!
I am urging all and sundry to throw their weight behind the Minister for Greater Accra, Mr Quartey, so that posterity would not judge us as the filthiest generation to ever assume the responsibility of our nation, an inevitable tag that we shall carry around our necks like filthy stray dogs that bark, bite, and spread rabies!
Yes, be responsible and mask up, too; we are also fighting a pandemic!