The Tema Development Corporation (TDC) was set up in 1952 with its mandate being to plan, lay out, and develop the Tema Acquisition Area.
This mandate, therefore, requires the construction of roads and public buildings, preparation and execution of housing schemes, development of industrial and commercial sites and the provision of public utilities, amongst others.
In line with the above mandate, the TDC set out to demolish structures on unapproved sites. It has been successful, as indicated in the news reports, in leaving over 150 home owners homeless.
The National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has moved in with tents to provide temporary shelter for those displaced—amidst fears of imminent outbreak of communicable diseases.
There are some who approve of the exercise, there are some aggrieved; and what becomes of this exercise is left to be seen.
But the question I have been asking myself all week is whether a ministry, department, agency or any other organisation allied to the government could have mustered the courage and will to execute a demolishing exercise of this kind.
Examples abound in recent times of aborted government enforcement initiatives. The first example that comes to mind is in relation to the anti-piracy textile task force which was set up to halt the importation of pirated wax prints.
According to the Textile, Garment and Leather Employers Union (TGEU), the influx of pirated wax prints has had a heavy toll on the domestic manufacturing—killing industries and compelling manufacturers to scale back their operations; which in the end leads to job losses.
The textile industry which used to provide 30,000 jobs now struggles to accommodate about 3,000 workers. This task force was suspended by the President on the grounds that innocent traders were being harassed.
And one wonders what alternative measures have been put in place to ensure that the local textile market is not flooded by cheap imports.
Not too long ago, there was a lot of talk about the enforcement of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act— which led to the formation of an inter-agency task force.
I doubt if much has been achieved so far as foreigners are still competing with locals in areas that have been statutorily hedged as exclusively for Ghanaian businesses, especially in the retail sector.
The long list of botched and frustrated enforcement measures in this country could run into thousands. How many times have Ghanaians, especially those in Accra, not been told by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) of some upcoming decongestion exercise only for hawkers to return some few days afterwards to take their place on the streets again.
Then there is the perennial flooding problem in some parts of the city, which up to this day no government has mustered the courage to turn around.
When the rains and the accompanying floods come in, official sources are quick to point out that the main problem has to do with people building on watercourses.
You find Presidents and ministers understandably going to those distressed and deprived by such incidents. They conclude their sympathy visits with instructions to the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to provide some assistance for the flood victims; only for NADMO to show up and complain of being under-resourced.
The AMA at some point in time declared war on Sodom and Gomorrah—a slum settlement. This was necessary, in the view of the assembly, to permit the dredging of the Odaw River to ensure the free flow of rain water and further prevent the occurrence of floods. Not much has been achieved so far.
It is on the back of the persistent feet dragging by government and the constant throwing of spanners in the works of most agencies and assemblies that I find the initiative taken by the TDC very amusing and encouraging—in spite of the low sides.
It is heart wrenching to see people’s years of investment being pulverised in minutes by heavy destruction equipments. This is further complicated by the fact that in a country with serious housing challenges, houses would have to be crashed to the earth.
Others have justifiably asked where the TDC was when the constructions and building projects were taking place. These are certainly valid concerns that have to be raised and addressed appropriately.
But my concern is; if the TDC can set out to enforce what it believes to be its appropriate mandate, what are the AMA and other enforcement entities doing.
Government and its institutions would have to do some soul searching and ask why almost always some reason or the other is discovered to skirt around the real need to enforce the laws and regulations governing the country.
The rains would definitely come in, the floods would be making the news again. We’d be going about the usual routine of ascribing the same reasons to a predictable age-long challenge.
And by this, we would come to realise how stale our progress has been as a nation. If the TDC can set out to execute its lawful mandate, then what about other tax-funded entities?