Ghana must bridge the south-north infrastructure inequality gap

A GNA
Feature by Yaw A.O. Ansah 

Accra, Sept. 18, GNA – It was just an hour
downpour, which overflowed one of the uncompleted bridges on the Eastern
Corridor roads, separating five farming communities from the Gushegu
Municipality in the Northern Region. Residents, including school pupils, traders
and farmers in the adjoining communities, had to wait for close to three hours
for the floodwater to recede before they could cross to their destination. 

Sadick Mumuni, a junior high school pupil and
his six other colleagues who hail from Wawe Community, initially tried crossing
the bridge but had to abandon that endeavour and return to higher and safer
grounds. Amidst the cold and drizzling-weather old women, children and
especially a number of breast-feeding mothers had to cover their heads with polythene
and cloth to protect themselves from getting drenched.  

The communities that are cut-off are
Yishilayali, Zanetle, Wawe, Zei, Tumo, Puguan and Nawugu. 

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News
Agency, Mr Christian Duute, a teacher, says two people got drowned as a result
of the flood and that people in the area would continue to go through such
hardships during heavy rains until government completes the Eastern Corridor
roads project.  

“It gets worse during the rainy season. We
feel neglected. Sometimes farmers’ produce get locked up and sometimes get
rotten, especially perishable vegetables. Government does not have our interest
at heart.” 

“We have beautiful infrastructure such as the
interchanges in Accra and Kumasi. But how many over-head bridges or fly-overs
have you seen in the three regions of the north? Are we not part of Ghana?” he
questioned.  

Mr Duute says the frequency of communities
being cut-off as a result of downpours due to uncompleted bridges or bad roads
are high in the Upper, East, West, Northern and Volta regions as compared to
the south.

Successive governments have, over the years,
focused their attention on developing few capital cities and this situation has
impoverish rural folks, especially people from the three regions of north,
which has partially become a pull factor for migration.  

The frustrations expressed by Duute and many
other rural folks are  confirmed by the
2018 Inequality Report jointly authored by Oxfam, SEND- Ghana and Ghana
Anti-Corruption Coalition, titled; ‘Building a More Equal Ghana.” It says
geographical inequality is stark, with clear north/south and rural/urban
divides.  

It re-affirms the reality in the rural areas,
being the bread basket and growers of foreign income earning produce for the
country, by reiterating the difficulty in achieving the potentials and job
creation opportunities of those areas due to the poor road
infrastructure. 

Ayishatu Ibrahim, a trader, reminisced how she
lost almost a truck full of yams and bags of maize to flood last year when the
road linking Nanumba North and South and the Kpandai districts were washed
off.

“I lost chunk of my capital and have not fully
recovered from that loss,” she said. 

In the case of Mohammed Awal, a farmer, a
motor king tricycle carting his freshly harvested pepper and tomatoes to the
market capsized when it tried crossing to the Yendi Municipality. “I was going
to sell the produce to buy educational materials and use the rest to take care
of my family of seven. It has made me poorer,” he said.  

These accounts reflect the finding of the
Report that re-echoes that rural poverty is now almost four times as high as
urban poverty. It also says progress towards poverty reduction in Ghana is
regionalised in character, leading to rising levels of inequality across and
within regions.  

The report notes with concern that the three
regions of the north have seen the smallest progress in poverty reduction from
56 per cent in 2006 to 50 percent in 2013. This has led the World Bank to
declare that Ghana’s ‘success story’ in poverty reduction is one that only applies
to southern and urban areas.

It reveals that the north is among the rural
localities where poverty is highly endemic with extreme poverty incidence of 28
per cent in 2013.

Mr Ekwow Spio-Gabrah, a former Minister of
Trade and Industry, sharing his thoughts on the huge inequality gap in the
various sectors, agreed with the finding of the Report and added that a recent
tour of the three regions of  north
showed a huge infrastructure gap. 

“The rich continue to get richer. We see
flamboyant neighborhood, increased number of used luxurious vehicles compared
to communities where people were drinking dirty water, children trekking to
study in dilapidated school structures and pregnant women in labour being
carried on motorbikes to hospitals to give birth,” he said.  

He recommended that government needs to work
with development partners to focus attention on implementing social policies
and deliberately set an agenda to embark on rapid infrastructure development to
fast-track the development of these areas to attract investment.

“It is one of the reasons why I back the call
that the Free Senior High School Policy should be discriminatory towards
parents in the rural areas who cannot pay their children’s school fees.
Government, by this discrimination, can make savings to embark on other
infrastructural projects,” Mr Spio-Gabrah said. 

GNA

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