The good news is that the alarm raised by a section of the media recently, that a medical officer and three student nurses had contracted cholera and died while treating patients at Cape Coast, has proved to be false.
According to medical authorities at the Central Regional Hospital, two doctors and a number of nurses did, indeed, contract the deadly disease in line of duty. But they have been nursed back to full recovery by diligent colleagues.
The bad news is that cholera continues to ravage the land. The latest bulletin indicates that patient numbers have crossed the 12,000 line throughout the nation, with more than 100 deaths. President John Dramani Mahama describes the situation as “totally unacceptable.”
Says the Head of State of the Republic: “As a people, we should not, and must not, have any of our relatives, friends and fellow citizens die from preventable and curable diseases,” he told the nation when he addressed the grand durbar of chiefs and people of the Oguaa Traditional Area to climax the annual Fetu Afahye Festival at Cape Coast on Saturday, September 6, 2014.
The irony is that the deadly outbreak owes its genesis to state officials failing to move rubbish, which developed from mole hills to mountains, in markets, streets and popular joints throughout the country. When the first few cases were reported at the La General and Korle Bu Teaching hospitals, both in Accra, following the rains, the portent for its containment was not good.
There was too much filth in the national capital for the disease to use as springboard to spread its tentacles throughout the country. Instead of the containment that was expected, rubbish at both public and private places, as well as the general filth engulfing the national capital, continue to pile up, with the city authorities still arguing about how and where to acquire landfill sites for waste disposal.
The continued dumping of untreated liquid waste at Lavender Hill at the Korle Gonno Beach gave impetus to the disease, which was eradicated in the United States of America, for instance, in the 19th Century.
Instead of the government of President Mahama providing the tools and cash to move the rubbish, the President descended into the gutters to remove garbage at James Town in Accra, with the Mayor of Accra, bearded Dr. Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, applauding from a safe distance. In any other society, he would be facing prosecution for the criminal neglect that has caused so many deaths in Accra.
Popular morning radio presenter Kwame Sefa-Kayi was devastated at the sight of the Head of State of the Republic in the gutters. “When I see my President at La Clinic, I know he cares for me. When I see him at Atuabo, I know he cares for me. But I am upset at seeing him in the gutters. The President shouldn’t have gone into the gutters,” said the host of the popular Akan programme, Kokrokoo, on Peace FM in Accra.
Many contributors on the social media though, were not that charitable to the Head of State. One left this message on the Google site that carried the news of President Mahama de-silting gutters in Accra: “Mahama can carry away all the toilet in Accra…We have to kick him out before he turns Accra into a dustbin.” Another tweeted: “Atta Mortuary man and now Mahama borlaman; how do these solve the problem of filth in the national capital?”
Ironically, while in opposition, the ruling National Democratic Congress promised to clean Accra and the whole nation of filth within 90 days of being given power. Five years and nine months after assuming office on January 7, 2009, the country is not only dirtier, more and more people are losing their lives to cholera under the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC’s) watch.
Accra is officially the fourth dirtiest national capital in Africa, a statement that owes its wider circulation to the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Samuel Sarpong.
The statistics say that in the whole eight years of the rule of former President John Agyekum Kufuor and his New Patriotic Party (NPP), not a Ghanaian soul was lost to cholera. And NDC officials still speak about building a Better Ghana!
Filth and cholera are just a few of the numerous challenges undermining the governance process in the first nation south of the Sahara to break the colonial yoke. The economy is on the brink. The cedi cannot hold its own against the major currencies. From a strength of almost one on one with the dollar, when the NDC bounced to power on January 7, 2009, after eight years in opposition, the cedi is threatening to hit four on one with the dollar.
Schools re-opened barely one month ago, with heads of public institutions grappling with the problem of feeding students in second cycle institutions on a mere GH¢3.30 a day, in an economy where one needs nearly GH¢400 to buy a bag of cement.
In many basic schools across the country, teachers have no chalk with which to instruct kids under their care. All talk of quality education in the manifesto of the ruling party is ringing hollow against the reality on the ground of crowded classrooms and no facilities. The government’s promise of building 50 community schools at the basic level every year, remains a mere paper guarantee.
In many homes across the country, feeding the family on one single decent meal a day is an uphill struggle. At GH¢150 a gallon, petrol costs more than the average weekly earnings of most workers. All that made this country the haven for a decent and honest living at independence is being eaten away by the realisation that the economy is never going to support that quality of life that made this country the envy of many Africans and residents of the Third World generally.
What is making it more difficult to endure, for many descending nationals, is the realisation that those managing the economy are making a rather poor job of it in spite of the huge political patronage. As Ghanaians enjoyed a holiday break from the hustle and bustle of eking out a living without a living wage on Monday, in remembrance of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the man who led the country to independence on March 6, 1957, many were those reflecting on the untenable situation of the Ombudsman.
The State of Ghana, which is awaiting an official International Monetary response for a bail-out to restructure the ailing economy, is spending a whopping US$456.25 a night accommodating the head of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). So far, as much as US$203,500 has been spent on hotel accommodation for Ms. Lauretta Vivian Lamptey, the CHRAJ boss appointed by the late President John Evans Atta Mills in controversial circumstances some three and a half years ago.
We are told further that, at her behest, as much as GH¢182,000 has also been sunk on renovation works at the official residence of the Commissioner, and still counting. Reflecting on this naked rape on the economy to house the person who is supposed to police the misuse of public funds has left many Ghanaians fuming.
Outspoken Franklin Cudjoe, President of the think tank Imani Ghana, says the inconsiderate behavior of the CHRAJ boss on her accommodation expenditure, at a time the commission itself is cash-strapped, “is indicative of the incompetence of [the] late President Mills who appointed her.”
Read his lips: “This thing doesn’t make sense, but I am not surprised. These are the vestiges of [the] late President Mills’ handiwork. Some of the decisions he took, have, unfortunately, landed us this way,” Cudjoe lamented.
For most discerning Ghanaians, President Mahama’s descent into the choked and smelling gutters of Accra, completes the story of how the President and his ruling NDC have led this once beautiful nation endowed with both natural and human resources, to descend into the gutters.
It is not the very best of development. But that, unfortunately, is the reality on the ground.
I shall return!