Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
Ghana’s decentralisation programme is touted as one of the best, if not the best, in the whole of the African continent.
In fact, some African countries have had to come here to learn from our experience because they have seen the programme as tried and tested.
From the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) days that the decentralisation programme was launched, something positive had come out, and perhaps the future looks even more brighter for the nation.
President Kufuor recently created five new districts in the Ashanti Region with the view to accelerate the pace of development of the communities. This was done in line with the decentralisation process.
Creation of new districts is very important. Clearly, it has the potential to advance the cause of development and to a very large extent, address poverty.
But they also come with a lot of challenges, which need commitment, hard work and dedication from the people to complement what the government puts in place to achieve the ultimate objectives.
It is in this regard that the new districts, Sekyere Afram Plains, Afigya Kwabre, Atwima Kwanwoma, Offinso North and Adansi Central, would be putting in place effective measures to lift themselves up the development ladder as they take off.
It is a fact that successive governments played some key parts in bringing some level of development to the communities within the newly created districts.
Under the current government for instance, the rural communities in the region have seen development, perhaps unseen, in any other government of the country.
One can talk about roads, water, electricity, health and schools, just to mention a few. But the stark reality is that those are not enough to lift the communities from the poverty, disease and deprivation to expected heights.
In the new district of Sekyere Afram Plains for instance, the situation leaves much to be desired. The Afram Plains section of the district lacks several amenities, which poses a lot of challenges to the new district assembly.
The roads are virtually in a bad state. Sometimes, people travelling from the Afram Plains to Kumasi and Effiduase have to go through Atebubu in the Brong Ahafo Region before connecting. The distance thus becomes very long, and passengers have to pay more, apart from the other inconveniences.
Water is also a problem. A number of the communities do not have potable water for drinking, which poses problems for their health.
Even in districts like Afigya Kwabre and Atwima Kwanwoma, which are close to Kumasi, one can find serious developmental problems that need serious efforts to address.
Not long ago, when I was travelling through sections of the Atwima Kwanwoma District, I asked whether the national cake was being fairly shared. Poor roads infrastructure prevailed and any first visitor may not believe the area is so close to Kumasi.
Similar situations prevail in the other three districts, but it is refreshing that at least, the new districts were allocated part of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund to kick-start their development process.
Infrastructure for the district capitals is also lacking. New offices for the decentralised departments must be provided if the assemblies are to operate on a sound footing.
Besides, residential accommodation for officers posted to the districts is also required. Provision of those infrastructure need huge sums of money and it is clear that government resources alone cannot meet the demand.
The people must, therefore, rekindle their communal spirit to complement the government’s effort.
In the Sekyere Afram Plains District for instance, a number of the people have provided residential accommodation for some of the officers who would be working in the district capital, Kumawu.
This is what we expect from other districts so that officers of the decentralised departments would be attracted to their new places of work.
It is regrettable the way communal spirit has waned in many communities in the region. I believe that the chiefs would have to do something about that attitude because the new districts must progress at all cost.