Construction of promised 5 Interchanges earmarked for Ashanti Region seems to have taken center-stage recently. Much as I would support the fulfillment of such electoral promises to maintain the confidence of the voter, critical assessment of the current situation….as against when the promises were made…, available statistics/data guiding government’s policy direction at the time of project implementation, and the history behind what we seek, makes me worry and attempt to caution my people to tread cautiously when taking electoral decision.
Between 2001 and 2008, the then J.A Kuffour led NPP Administration had, for the first time in the history of Ashanti Region, initiated 3 Interchanges Project, the Asafo, Sofoline, and Asokwa. These were meant to beautify the second city, Kumasi, and to provide facelift for an Inner Ring Road to enhance security.
Then came some media personalities in our region who consciously embarked on running the administration down in the face/minds of the unconscious voter. They championed the ‘Ofie ne fie’ demonstration, which sought, amongst other things, to tell the then President Kuffour, who was an Ashanti, that he has neglected his people.
They went to such complacent extent of claiming the Asafo Interchange was an ordinary bridge in nature, and the Soline and Asokwa Interchanges projects were too late into the administration’s period, and that they could have been started earlier.
Whilst the media were doing this in the Ashanti Region, the NDC propagandist has entered the coastal regions with artistic impression of these projects, showing them to voters there that President Kuffour is being insensitive to the plight of the people along the coastal belt because he is not from there. And that they should come and witness massive constructions going on in Ashanti.
This narration stayed on the lips and minds of the people. And as a result, the NPP party suffered the highest voter apathy in Ashanti Region, whilst others voted against the party.
Subsequent to our collective action during the general election, the region suffered the following between January 2009 and January 2017;
- The scope of work of the two Interchanges that were still under construction were varied to the disadvantage of the people in the region. The ancillary works and all extensions that were part of the larger projects got truncated. The projects got abandoned until the NPP came back to power in 2017 that works have been continuing.
- There was not a single Interchange constructed in the region in addition for the entire 8year period of Mills/Mahama Administration. Yet the same media personalities stayed in the region throughout the period.
Currently, research is showing there is high rate of depression and hopelessness globally. What this means is that, governments must develop deliberate policies and programmes to restore hope and to curb increasing depression as an urgent matter of health concerns and peace and security. Therefore, programmes such as the U-Start, NEIP, NABCO, Ghana Enterprises Agency, etc are such areas the country must concentrate on, at least, for now that the world is having to grabble with post-covid economic mess. These would create employment, promote entrepreneurship, eradicate abject poverty and restore hope. It would also ensure where the next bread comes from for the ordinary citizen, thus controlling depression.
These are critical times that the people of Ashanti Region should not use construction of Interchanges as a measure of progress. There are simple and petty things which, when done properly, would save the region and its occupants from the shackles of depression and hopelessness as being indicated globally. These are intrinsic human demands which, if not controlled from the onset, can jeopardize every effort government extrinsically.
Yes, the Interchanges are good if government can start and or finish them before 2025, but I prefer U-Start to beautiful Interchanges which would, at best, make me a well-fed hungry man.
Let’s be careful not to fall into the 2008 trap again.