Often when I am walking through the Ho township, many friends will say, Benjamin, “what are you guys doing about the roads in the region?”, Why are you people not asking the ministers and the president to come and fix the roads for us?
I will often respond with a grin and say we are trying our best. But let us face the reality, even demonstrations are not working the magic anymore, maybe, something bigger or spontaneous like we saw on the Madina-Adenta road over the abandonment of the footbridges might do, but as it stands, no story or demonstration appears to be working the magic especially in the Volta Region.
Indeed, social media campaigns have been waged using #FixVoltaRoadsNow to draw attention to the subject, but it appears the hashtag has not caught the attention of the powers that be, or so it seems.
The campaign saw residents from many parts of the region share pictures of extremely bad roads from across the region.
Among the very bad roads are the famous eastern corridor road which stretches from Asikuma through Hohoe into the Oti region, the Ho-Aflao stretch, the Sogakope Bridge (which has been refurbished except not to the expectation of residents), Afiadenyigba-Anloga, Sokode-Akrorfu-Bame-Kpeve, and the Bame to Dzolokpuita roads among many others.
In a conversation with a top-ranking NPP politician in the region, I learnt that even the Volta Regional Minister, Dr. Archibald Yao Letsa is frustrated as many efforts to have the government pay contractors on some of the major roads in the region to return to the site have yielded no results.
Dr. Letsa, however, continues to make promises that barely hold any water, clearly in earnest effort to save his government’s image whenever journalists call on him.
One of my friends continued to tell me how slim the possibility of Volta being given any form of priority is. He said if you look at how many votes the party gets from the region “there are almost no chances that we will be given any form of priority. “
Indeed, whenever the matter of roads is raised, the question of what the NDC did for the region during its era is raised almost immediately.
They will often say “you gave the NDC 8 years and you are their World Bank, what do you have to show for it?” Without this line of argument, no morning show that discusses bad roads in the region is complete.
The vice president while addressing a durbar of chiefs and people of Klefe during their Yam festival celebration said he was “surprised that there are agitations about bad roads in the Volta Region”. Citing the NDC’s green book, Dr. Bawumia said all the roads were only constructed in the green pages.
He, however, promised that some contractors will be paid by November 2019 to begin or continue work on some roads in the region.
In a conversation with Dr. Letsa, he said he hoped that such payments will not be swallowed up in bank debts so the contractors can return to site.
“I will be the first person to have my peace of mind”, the Volta Regional Minister said in a conversation preluding one of our numerous interviews on Volta roads. But as to whether this promise will come to pass is another question to ask because Dr. Letsa is not the only person who appears to be making promises which later turn out to be empty to the people about roads.
Indeed, President Akufo-Addo during his tour of the newly created Oti Region in July 2018 promised that work was going to resume on the famous eastern corridor road in two weeks but it’s been over a year and the promise of two weeks is still yet to be fulfilled and the roads have gone from bad to worse with only ghost contractors on site.
As the president visits the Volta Region on Monday, a lot will be heard about Volta roads again. Promises will flow again but, as my politician friend told me, Volta does not have enough of the currency called votes to buy roads from an NPP administration.
Personally, I think differently. I want to take the words of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for it. He said, Volta is a bride he will woo until he marries her, so I still believe that the president will provide for his new bride, the topmost of her priorities; the roads.
We will keep our fingers crossed to see how this new found love of Nana Addo is handled and whether it will manifest in the political currency of votes in the 2020 general elections or not.
The writer, Benjamin Aklama, Citi FM and Citi TV’s Volta regional correspondent.