Accra, A Millennium City; A City In Name Only

I wrote this piece two years ago. I cannot believe how little has changed. Had the Mayor done his job instead of naming buildings after the dead and attending presidential debates, I’m pretty sure this Melcom affair wouldn’t have happened.

Let’s face it, Accra is no city. It is poorly planned, filthy, stinks, full of clogged gutters with a horrendous road network. So one has to wonder why someone will have the gall to dot the town (sorry village) with billboards saying ‘Accra Millennium City, keep it clean.’

I have heard the Mayor rave about this Millennium City project any chance he gets, always going on about how he will transform the village into a world class city. That means  proper drainage and waste management systems, an efficient road /rail network, improved housing and healthcare for resident.

In fact that is exactly what Dr. Alfred Vanderpuije promised residents when he was appointed. Accra was up for an extreme makeover – capital cities edition and he was the man to do it. That is only reason why we egged him on when he had his men chase hapless hawkers off the streets.

But two years on, the only proof of his hard work is a billboard proclaiming Accra a ‘Millennium City.’ You see he didn’t only fail with the hawkers, but with everything else. Yet, Dr. Vanderpuije seems to think he is doing a good job hence the billboard ad.

Trouble is, declaring Accra a ‘Millennium City,’ will not transform it into a city. It takes planning; hard work and an efficient local assembly, and Dr. Vanderpuije should know this. In North Carolina where he came from, if( and it’s a big IF) there was an outbreak of a disease like cholera which is caused by filth and a lack of good drinking water, the Mayor will not fix up a fountain to gush out water in the midst of the filth. People in this town queue to buy water to cook and clean. Every competent mayor will get rid of the vegetable farms on the edges of every gutter in the Accra.

I realize we love useless taglines in this country, which is why we actually believe that Ghana is the ‘gateway to Africa,’ or that there is some ‘better Ghana agenda’. But, darn, to call this giant mess a ‘City’ is delusional. And Dr. Vanderpuije and his team had better come up with a clear strategy on how to rid Accra of filth. I hear dustbins at every point works better than a billboard. We’d appreciate a clear plan too, every proper city has one – that way they don’t put landfill sites in residential areas.

It’s either Ghanaians are allowed to elect their local government officials or someone should appoint mayors who will have the freedom to fix the mess. The intermittent grieving must stop.

One thought on “Accra, A Millennium City; A City In Name Only”
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