MANANGING Kumasi is undoubtedly one challenge that has confronted politicians over the years but it appears the current Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Samuel Sarpong, is on course to achieving his vision of bringing sanity into the management of the metropolis.
Imagine how you would deal with a metropolis where all manner of people claiming to be chiefs will put on cloth and walk to authorities to demand certain favours.
Again think about a city where politicians easily capitulate where traders threaten not to vote if they are not allowed to sell on pavements and streets.
But it looks like Kumasi is on the verge of witnessing a paradigm shift under the current MCE.
Nine months into his appointment he has managed to lead the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) to maintain sanity in the city centre, where traders did all manner of things to the disgrace of Ghana’s second biggest city.
When he assumed the position of MCE, Mr Sarpong swore to bring sanity into the management of the metropolis, especially the city centre.
He consequently got the general assembly to approve a decongestive exercise in September 2009.
Against the backdrop of past failures, many saw the exercise as one of the mere political games but the successes achieved so far attest to the KMA chief executive’s resolve to give a new face to the management of the metropolis.
The only snag was during the Christmas festivities when traders forced their way onto the streets and pavements. But as the MCE explained, “ It was a temporary action to get the traders take advantage of the festivities.”
With the festivities over, the assembly has pushed the traders back and the streets and pavements are free again.
Perhaps the commonest nuisance that has confronted the metropolis for a considerable period is the congestion in the city centre.
Multitudes of people knocking each other, some selling on pavements and in the streets, and the ground strewn with garbage were the sordid sight of the past.
I have known the gangling Sarpong since his days as head of the Serious Fraud Office in Kumasi as someone who never compromises wrongdoing.
he never kowtowed to officialdom as he undertook his work without fear or favour.
As a result he incurred the displeasure of some government officials but always stood his grounds.
His entry into politics as KMA chief was, therefore, seen by many residents in the metropolis as one of the good things to happen to the city and he seems to be winning the hearts of many people who want the best for Kumasi.
Fortunately, he has the full backing of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who says he will support the MCE in every action he takes to make Kumasi a better place to live.
The city of Kumasi is strategically positioned. Given its strategic location and other factors, Kumasi has developed into a major commercial centre with all major trade routes converging there.
The increase in population sanitation has also brought in its wake a long-standing challenge that had confronted managers of the metropolis. The biggest chunk of the assembly’s resources is channelled into sanitation but the problem has remained unresolved.
Before Mr Sarpong assumption of office Kumasi was filthy but he quickly marshalled all the forces at his disposal to rid the city of the filth when he took office and today a considerable measure of sanity has been restored in that area.
One project that will surely add to the effective management of the city is the reconstruction of the Kumasi central market.
Considered the biggest market in West Africa, the central market regrettably has not seen any meaningful development since its construction about 70 years ago.
Residents and the thousands of traders and other people who visit the market daily will be expecting Mr Sarpong to keep his promise that the market will surely be constructed under his administration.
But, many other challenges confront the MCE as he attempts to extend his vision to ensure proper management of the city to other sectors.
One of such challenges yet to be tackled head-on is the swarm of street children who remain an eyesore in the city centre.
The pressure on teenagers to work has become great these days, not just because of economic reasons but also due to peer pressure.
Dealing with this menace to clear the mess in the city centre is something that the KMA Chief Executive and the assembly must tackle with all seriousness.
sustaining programmes undertaken so far to ensure effective management of the metropolis is very important if the chief executive is to realise his dreams for the city.
It is against this background that the writer will suggest that the MCE and the assembly must never bow to any pressure for the traders to return to the streets and pavements for even a minute.
What happened during the Christmas was not the best and the authorities should put their feet down and never bow to any form of pressure from any quarters.
Again, anyone who flouts the assembly’s bye-laws must be made to face the full rigours of the law.
It is good that the courts have fined a number of recalcitrant traders and the monies used to sustain the programme. This must continue because Kumasi deserves the best.