Originally Published, December 6, 2012

I dedicate this article  to H. E. Alhaji Aliu Mahama,  our former vice president, a disciplined politician with no vile in his mouth, a noble and selfless statesman who passed away on the 16th, November, 2012 for his stand against indiscipline in every sphere of our national life.  May the Angels of Mercy lead you on Papa. Rest in perfect peace.

Launching a strategic plan to campaign against indiscipline in May 2002, to eliminate unruliness from all spheres of our society, he was of the conviction that Ghana could on only achieve socio-economic progress if Ghanaians adopt positive attitudes and behavior. Aliu Mahama added to the thinking of the nation’s development by his quest for a disciplined society. Ten years down the line, what do we have to show in terms  cleaner environment etc etc.

Social trend watchers say that your footwear can determine the personality you want to project.
Our approach to development since the over-throw of the first republic has largely been dictated by mean, shorted-sighted; “anything-goes” attitude, without luster nor a penchant for excellence. It is as if we are out to punish the nation and its people.
When MELCOM shop at Achimota collapsed, irresponsibly ending the lives of scores of people and maiming several others, many were the sympathizers. Prominent among the sympathizers were those in charge of our safety and national security. We saw a good deal of public relations by state officials, with lots of photo opportunities.
Let us contrast that posture to our attitude towards the open gutters at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle on both sides of the section of the road in front of the VIP Bus Terminal.
Can anybody tell the nation what is been done about these gaping holes?  One heavy rain can wash the road away. Need we remind ourselves of how those death traps came to be?  Do I need to remind anybody about the strategic nature of that road? It leads to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
What catches one’s eyes when you walk by is the swelling squalor and the unhygienic conditions in which  food vendors ply their trade. Are we waiting for another disaster to happen or  cholera outbreak to occur for some officials to have the opportunity to talk down on the people? 
Who opened the gutters?  A private citizen or a hired contractor?  I mean who? If we are not ready to fix it why are there no barriers of protection or warning signs to caution road users about the dangers lurking around. What is delaying the completion of the project?
In any case do we need foreign grant to change the sorry state of the national flags at Kwame Nkrumah circle?  See the irony; right by the poles carrying these torn flags are tablets acclaiming Accra as a millennium city. We the ordinary citizens strongly reject the effort to welcome guests into the city with those flags, so please have them changed. However, If we had done what was just right for our departed Vice president Alhaji Mahama, by bringing the flags at the Nkrumah circle to half mast, those shameful insignia would have been removed.

The George Bush Highway casts an even poorer image about us. What was meant to symbolize a prestigious relationship between the people of the United States Of America and Ghana is turning out to be an “imperial waste”.  
Apart from its growing reputation as a “highway to debacle”, a cursory look at the vicinity of the fly- over at Mallam junction bespeaks the insanitary and dejected state associated with neglect. There are poodles of stagnant water with wild grass gaining in height with each passing day and reptiles having a field’s day. There are already signs of dumping of refuse. If we are not ready to beautify the area, are we not ready to do what it takes to protect the foundation of the highway?    Let us pinch ourselves that the monies used for the project was  raised from the sweat and taxes of the ordinary struggling folks in the US. 
What does the contract say about the floor on which the flyover sits? Is the contractor done with the work; or  it is one of those things?
I took these pictures long before the rains on Monday, November 12, 2012, which further exposed the shabbiness of the design and the lack of depth in the conceptualization of the project.
On November 12, 2012, commuters were inundated by rain water at the Mallam interchange creating a gridlock on the roads. Even though our architects knew of the challenge of flooding in that vicinity long ago, the nation has been handed with one of the “anything goes” deluxe services.
We don’t need chains of degrees to realize that with a highway of such nature:considering its span, the density of vehicular traffic; the population density living along it and the pattern of commuting by even pedestrians alone, it needed underground passes for pedestrians in virtually  every community or suburb along the road, and not the three over-head bridges positioned along the streets. Consider the distance one has to traverse to get to an approved crossing, and imagine the school children and the elderly who will have to go across these bridges.
When nations are trying to achieve uninterrupted flow of transport and communication in their societies by reducing to the barest minimum, the inter-face between vehicular traffic and the people, the reverse is what is being done here. 
We run our international and main inter-regional road networks right in the heart of cities and towns and deliberately slow down vehicular traffic by speed control ramps so that people living around can trade on the highway with travelers serving as their market. 

Take a drive on the newly constructed Nkawkaw by-pass, which is even meant to be lying on the outskirts of the city to avoid the traffic jam at the city center, and you will experience what I am trying to point out.
Whiles other nations are striving to make efficient use of time, Ghanaians are yet to recognize time as an important resource and its efficient use as an index of development. 
So it is like when we are asked how we hope to create jobs and reduce poverty, our answer is “by pushing the population to sell and recreate on our highways and by-ways”.
Putting all these together I want to ask, what sort of nation do we want to build? One of excellence or mediocrity? 

Today, we have a “Presidential Palace”. which landscaping  speaks to a national psyche which is not geared towards excellence and development. Whiles I applaud the initiative to build such an edifice, the failure to think about the project as a symbol of national pride, one that glamorize our achievements and tries to inspire us- which are the reasons why nations spend fortunes to raise public structures- the surrounding of that palace is without blush.    
 In spite of the millions of Dollars spent on the project, leadership has failed to ensure that its landscaping would reflect both the cost and the prestige of the project. 
If we could spend so much on the project, couldn’t the nation afford a top-notch irrigation fitting for the lawns? See how bushy the place becomes at times. Is that the best we can do to keep the surroundings of this important national property?  What we see there sometimes come close to a game hunting forest.
When we go round we see the compounds of few individuals and organizations whose philosophy in life is devoid of “anything goes” syndrome. 
Such individuals and organizations ensure aesthetics about their structures are complimented by their compounds; well-designed landscapes, with lush-looking well manicured lawns. It is not extravagance; it is about the value we place on ourselves.

With the issue of the “anything goes” syndrome we the citizens of this country cannot be accused of being over presumptuous, if we said the process of modernization in Ghana is running in the reserve gear. Before then, it is appropriate to ask whether as Ghanaians, we even complain enough. Do we hold our state officials accountable? Are we fond of raising issues with the state institutions; not with the intents of undermining the bodies as some political activists are doing currently; but as a way of ensuring that we are offered “value for our money.” 
With all the better tools for research and analysis now available to us, development projects built-in the sixties  seem more forward-looking and reflected higher living standards  than the infrastructures being undertaken in recent years. 
I want to ask; as a nation what value do we place on ourselves?  Why can’t our authorities ever do something and get it all right at a go? Is the poor state of our environment and our attitude towards social infrastructure a reflection of a national psyche which lacks excellence? Indiscipline and neglect certainly increases the cost of development.
As a nation we need the immediate response in the form of solution to the issues raised in this article, and not the “already made answers” on the lips of state officials which often leads us no where.  With this level of negligence we should expect consequences. Who is listening?


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