With so much biting, unrestrained and sometimes even cruel criticisms in the Ghanaian media, about every action and inaction of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration, I really wonder what those expressing concern about a new ‘culture of silence’ actually mean.
Anyway, in my view, if anything, what is much more worrying, what needs to be talked about, but which is being ignored, is what can be termed ‘a culture of negligence’.
I mean specifically, a ‘culture of environmental neglect’, defined by one source as “failure to care for and protect one’s surroundings”.
Shouldn’t everybody be concerned, for example, that our capital city is practically being swallowed by weeds?
Why should the fertility of our soils be demonstrated by the amount of weeds flourishing everywhere in our country’s principal city?
One person who has shown that he does care is the Greater Accra Regional Minister Henry Quartey.
But are people complementing his efforts, by at least brightening their own corner?
Isn’t it the culture of negligence that has seen Ghana losing so much forest cover that now the Government has had to launch a crash tree-planting project to restore our forests?
Thus just over a month ago, on June 11, the ‘Green Ghana Day’ initiative, aimed at planting five million trees all over the country, took the country by storm.
But after the tree-planting, what next?
Secondly, the topical news currently is the amazing feat chalked by Mr. Quartey, getting the onion traders at the Agbogbloshie Market to relocate to Adjen Kotoku, near Amasaman, as part of his laudable ‘Let’s make Accra work’ drive.
It is evident that others operating there will also have to relocate.
But after the relocations, what next?
What is to be done with the vacated area at Agbogbloshie?
I have one answer to both questions, a suggestion: why not develop the Agbogbloshie site into a green area, a park for the capital, to fulfil a long-felt need for an Accra City Park?
There is need for one, because clearly, the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park, for instance, has a different purpose.
It would also serve to improve the Accra aura spectacularly as the backdrop to the developments in the city, the magnificent structures springing up all over.
Indeed, creating parks all over the country would be a fitting complement to the ‘Green Ghana’ programme.
Of course the initiators of the ‘Green Ghana’, and the Minister, may have plans for the next phase.
However, I’m hoping that the Government, and other stakeholders, will give consideration to my idea of converting Agbogbloshie into a park befitting Ghana’s First City.
It also seems to me that now more than ever, as I have written a number of times, the Department of Parks and Gardens needs to be revived and resourced to play a lead role in the beautification of the capital city and other places.
As I have pointed out in this space, even in London which is seen as a very commercial city, surprisingly, a few minutes’ walk left or right, away from the busy famous shopping street, Oxford Street, will take one to a park, including areas with seats to rest shopping-weary legs.
By one estimate there are as many as 25 parks in London, all phenomenal ones!
Again, South Korea where land for development is scarce and their capital, Seoul, surrounded by mountains, despite that, they have managed to decorate their streets with plants and flowers.
They have flowers in baskets hanging from the lampposts.
The neglect of Accra’s spaces, especially with central reservations and road shoulders teeming with weeds, is bewildering – and shameful.
A few days ago, going around the city, what I saw confirmed that nothing has changed since the last time this column drew attention to the messy state of many Accra streets, including the N1, the George Walker Bush Highway: with a litter-strewn median and broken railings.
Regarding the Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout, how can this prime site and its environs be allowed to look like a weeds emporium?
Another example of the deplorable sights was the Ceremonial Route right from Legon, through the ’37 Military Hospital, past Jubilee House to the Ako-Adjei Interchange.
The picture from the Ako-Adjei past the Nima Police Station and the Paloma Restaurant environs to the Kwame Nkrumah Circle was no better.
Unbelievably, on the High Street, both sides of that prestigiously-named thoroughfare were sprouting weeds, from the Courts Complex, through the Arts Centre to the open space in front of the General Post Office (GPO).
Most disappointing of all, even the fenced off mini spaces directly opposite the Bank of Ghana and the old office of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, as well as that in front of the GPO, were all overgrown with weeds! Shocking!
Why has our capital become a city of weeds, as if Ghana is aiming to export weeds?
At Dansoman Estate, although I was happy to observe some saplings planted in the central reservation of the General Acheampong High Street, being nursed to grow into decorative trees, there was cause for concern.
Unbelievably, the Theresa Amerley Tagoe memorial roundabout, inaugurated with fanfare just last November, is displaying lots of weeds, one more evidence of the culture of neglect!
So I ask again: Why has the Department of Parks and Gardens been put on the back burner at a period when their expertise is needed as never before?
At least in the past we felt its presence because we used to see its staff busy at work, usually tending the medians.
Why does it seem that we revel in the unkempt appearance of the nation’s capital?
Mr. Quartey, please bring on board the Department of Parks and Gardens!
Furthermore, Accra-dwellers need to appreciate that it will take a collective effort to give the capital the ambience worthy of a metropolis – and undoubtedly the rest of the country will take their cue from Accra.