Home World Enimil Ashon: Give me Henry Quartey, any day!

Enimil Ashon: Give me Henry Quartey, any day!

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In a country where no official programme or policy seems to work; where governance processes are nearly always riddled with faux pas, confusion from poor or no planning, it is professionally risky to praise governments or appointees.

For the second time in the past few months, however, I put my career on the line and make bold to give a thumbs-up to Hon (one of the few who truly deserves the title ‘Honourable’) Henry Quartey, this time not for boldness but for brilliance in project planning and execution. 

What is unfolding before our eyes in the ongoing Greater Accra ‘Operation Clean Your Frontage’, has no antecedents in our governance tradition. I have not seen any government programme as thoroughly planned and executed as this.

The operation, being conducted by the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council, seeks to make it obligatory for all individuals and corporate entities to be responsible for the cleaning and greening of their immediate surroundings.

Consultations with major stakeholders and opinion leaders have been exhaustive, along with sensitisation programmes in the various municipalities and districts in Accra; a programme for the training of “permanent street soldiers” to carry out short, medium and long term swoops, arrests, pulling down of dilapidated and dangerously sited structures has been on-going for some time now.

To avoid being tagged a nine-day wonder, 3,500 “street soldiers” are being trained: by March 21, the first batch of between 1,500-2,000 will pass out and, complemented by National Service personnel, deployed to designated places, to be properly supervised by retired military officers.

In anticipation of legal suits by aggrieved persons, the necessary by-laws have been passed and gazetted by the 29 Assemblies in the region. So with effect from the day of the launch of the operation, no prosecutor would be found scratching their head in court, unable to locate the particular law backing the arrest of recalcitrant citizens caught selling in the streets, disposing of solid waste in drains and undertaking acts that have the potential to cause traffic congestion.

That is what I call planning, and, O, yes, that’s the proper use of taxes, to wit, paying those street soldiers from government funds. It’s a better use of our taxes than paying an Article 71 Office Holder ¢14,000.00 a month for merely attending meetings, nothing more except being an Article 71 Officeholder!

While saluting the authorities for this brilliant well-thought-through programme to ensure, hopefully, a permanent goodbye to the chaos, I pray that the “soldiers” being put in the system will not turn out the same way as some  MTTD policemen and the City Guards of old: taking bribes from traders and drivers to let the guilty off the hook. I pray that Henry Quartey’s 3,500 “street soldiers” would prove everybody wrong.

Prayers, however, are not always horses, and that is why I recommend that in the same way as the operation was subjected to thorough planning, there will also be well tough anticipatory measures to rid the operation of “street soldiers” with itchy fingers.

While the war rages on, the city’s authorities would do well not to forget the truism that sanitation is in the mind. Force of law is fine, but beyond that (even before it), the Government’s first point of action is citizen education. We have a society in which citizens do not know that it is harmful to defecate in public places or to litter. If we cannot change this mindset, a thousand Henry Quarteys will fail to rid Accra of filth and chaos.

One cause of congestion in the markets, and the spill-over of traders into the streets, is the absence of alternatives to what we have known forever as the traditional markets in Sekondi and Takoradi, Makola, Mallam Atta, Agbogbloshie, Kotokoraba, Tamale and Kejetia.

How about trying single product markets, such as Yam Market, “folks” (broni wawu) market, the newly created Onion Market etc. They take the pressure off the overcrowded multi-product markets.

Someone has suggested Night Markets, but they will not last, what with surprise swoops by armed robbers. It is why the Shell and GOIL shops have ceased operating after 10 pm.

In a country where everyone does, or wants to be left to do, as they please, operations such as this are not “sensible” to a government that is eyeing 2024. It is not likely that citizens whose illegal structures have been pulled down or who have been thrown off the streets will be very forgiving as they stand alone in the polling booth in December 2024.

And that is why I have nothing but admiration for the Government, Millions have expected Akufo Addo to fire this Regional Minister, but he hasn’t, and that is a breath of fresh air.



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