Accra-based lawyer, Ace Ankomah believes Ghanaian presidents have “way too much power “, crippling the will of mayors to deal with the metropolitan menace of congestion, illegal structures and hawking.
He said until a mayor becomes his own boss, these irritating and intransigent practices scarring the beauty of city will remain.
Currently, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives are appointed by the President and last as long as a president remains in office.
A mayor’s allegiance to the people is seen as a hope.
Owing to this arrangement, governments often chicken out after heavy backlash from traders, market women and some sections of the public, whenever a mayor decides to decongest the city.
The lawyer was not sure if electing a mayor is the way forward but he was sure that a change in the constitution to relieve the president of his immense powers, is the proper thing to do.
He was contributing to Multi TV’s “Tarzan’s Take”, discussing “why do we love making laws but have a penchant for ignoring them”.
Setting the tone for the discussion, the host Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby read out a comment a minister once said in opposing a crackdown on the use of motor bikes popularly termed “okada” for commercial transport
“There are many laws sitting in status books that are not being implemented. The law banning okada said should be one of them”, the host read.
Okada is among many of the city’s problems.
Accra is also seen by many as a dirty place. On a tourist website, one visitor wrote “a dirty mud river runs from North to south in Accra. It crosses the Ring road west close to Neoplan tro-tro station, 300 m from Kwame Nkrumah Circle.”
Section 296 sub section 16 of Act 29 of the Criminal Code, 1960 cites hawking as obstruction of public way yet the city faces serious congestion caused by hawking and unauthorized structures.
Accra Metropolitan Authority’s (AMA) decongestion exercise to rid the city of filth and unauthorized structures have largely backfired.
A failure informed by what experts say is the lack of political will on the part of elected politicians fearful of electoral consequences.
The AMA has now abandoned the use of force, opting for a water-down approach to decongestion – an educational campaign conducted in six languages, including English, Ga, Akan, Ewe, Dagbani and Hausa.
Ace Ankomah noted “Ghana’s presidency is a super presidency. They have way too much power. That is why we are in a mess. We need to hold the president personally responsible. The powers that the mayors have ought to be greatly enhanced if the mayors are to be agents of change”.
Co-panelist and a a former AMA boss, Mr. Nat Nunoo Amarteifio recalled reading an editorial in the Chronicle criticizing the city authorities for flooding caused by lack of proper drainage.
“That editorial was written in 1895 by the Gold Coast Chronicle”, he laughed noting that 119 years later the problem persists”. Story by Ghanafirstname.lastname@example.org
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