What do we do about our roads?
The state of our roads has been on my mind for some time now.
And this problem has become more pronounced with the pouring of the rains.
Let me start with a story.
I visited a friend’s house last weekend.
I have been to that area a number of times.
On all my previous visits, the road was in a very bad shape. It was not tarred but replete with pot holes and so many indentations.
The street had no gutters there as well. But this time around things were different.
Gutters had been constructed. And the road had been levelled.
It was a nice experience being on that road until I got to a point.
What I had seen at the beginning was not the full story.
It ended at some time. The road was levelled to a certain point.
The gutter had been constructed up to a certain point.
I later got to understand that the gutter and the newly constructed road ended at the house of a member of parliament.
I was naturally incensed. How could this be? I wondered to myself.
Was it coincidental the road construction ended where the Member of Parliament’s property ended? Of course it was not.
In my view, it is clearly selfishness at work. But once again, this is an example of the ever failing state of social and public goods provision in this country.
I watched UTV some weeks back and their news item for some reason focused on the state of the roads in various parts of the country.
And it was a sorry tale. It was beyond shameful.
It was hell.
I have heard tales of farmers and how they have had to cut their losses by selling their items way cheaper than they would ordinarily have because they recognise the fact that if they do not that their produces may go bad.
I have heard tales of how vehicle tyres get stuck in ruts and mud pools and opens up people transporting goods to attacks and other forms of dangers.
I have heard a number of instances where people lose their lives because they had been left with no option but to dance around the numerous potholes on our roads.
I have seen way too many examples of how uncomfortable it is driving through a bad road and praying that your car’s suspension system will remain intact.
I have heard the shocking tale of a woman who had a miscarriage simply by using a road.
I have heard and seen some smart Ghanaians planting plantains in some of these potholes all in the bid to get the attention of the central government to do something.
But nothing concrete seems to be taking place.
And my explanation for the lack of seriousness on the government’s side is simple – our constitutional and political arrangement shields those who are in the position to make a difference from the realities and difficulties that afflict many.
Government office holders are in the well kept places in Accra. Even if they are not, they use 4 wheel drives which absorb most of the stress and strains that come with being on a bad road.
How are they going to feel the pain of the masses unless they are in opposition?
But I am happy.
I am happy that gradually people are beginning to hold their elected officials accountable.
I am happy that the residents of Ablekuma, Amasaman and Nsakina are up in arms demanding good roads.
I am happy that they are not asking for the roads to be levelled but rather they are asking for an asphalted road.
And we must all join in this campaign to ensure that the kind of roads that we get at the end of the day is one that makes our lives easier and better.
Take the people of Dome Kwabenya for instance.
Not twice but on so many occasions, the residents there have had cause to complain of the poor road network there. And all that they have been met with is one good excuse after another.
I have lived through the experience of using some of these roads and all that I can say is that no one deserves to live under such condition.
Absolutely no one.
If there are countries that are able to keep and maintain their roads, why is it so difficult for us to maintain and keep our roads? This is one of the things that beats my imagination.
There is nothing that we cannot do on the face of the earth, absolutely nothing, if we put our mind to it.
But there is clearly not enough commitment to tackle the issue of bad roads especially when most of these can be resolved at the stage when the roads are being constructed.
But I encourage communities to protest and assert their rights to good roads.