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Redeemer Buatsi writes: A new force or an old shallowness

Opinion

1 months ago
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Nana Kwame Bediako (aka Freedom Jacob Ceasar or Cheddar) recently announced that he wants to extend the sea from the coast of Ghana to the Ashanti region. He said this as part of his political tour of the Ashanti region, where he wants to listen to Ghanaians ahead of this year’s (2024) elections.

While the promise to extend the sea from the coast of Ghana to the landlocked region of the Ashanti Region is ambitious, the real question is the feasibility of such a venture in the face of other alternatives and Ghana’s current economic woes.

Before addressing feasibility and alternative issues, one question needs to be addressed. It is possible, with sophisticated engineering efforts and huge financial injections, to get the sea redirected to serve as a means of transport between the coast and another region. However, past engineering efforts in this line have only been successful at linking two water sources and not entirely redirecting the sea to serve a landlocked region.

The Panama Canal for example connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, making it easier for transport between regions sited in and around these areas. The Volga-Don Canal is another example of an engineering system that connects the Caspian Sea via the Sea of Azov, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Grand Canal links five of China’s main river basins, spanning more than 2000 kilometers and serving as a unified means of transport and communication between northeastern and central-eastern parts of China.

Cheddar wants to drag the sea from the coast of Ghana into the inland parts of the Ashanti region and people are asking if this is one of those old jokes Ghanaians have had to laugh about these past years and rightly so. The jokes are no longer funny. The current vice president has told similar jokes and even more, and many Ghanaians have stopped laughing.

In 2016, the vice president, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia promised to build a SkyTrain in Accra to address the city’s transportation problems when at the same time, the Tema-Accra motorway was overtaken by potholes and had become a near-death trap. At the same time, roads in many parts of the city were untarred, dusty and quite dangerous for motorists, especially at night. Right-thinking members of society never took the vice president seriously, and have never taken him seriously until today. And true to their doubt, the so-called SkyTrain remained a joke as it was, eight years on, and it may never materialize in the foreseeable future.

The SkyTrain joke is only one of the many jokes that the current NPP administration told Ghanaians in 2016, and those who found it funny at the time did themselves a lot of favor by laughing them off.

Ghanaians are not ridiculing and laughing at the current promise of Cheddar to drag the sea to the Ashanti region because it is impossible. They are laughing because when you do not have money to buy food, but you promise to buy a lady a car, she will definitely regard you as a clown. When the vice president promised to build a SkyTrain, people did not laugh because it was not a good idea, they laughed because they were still struggling to maneuver the potholed, untarred, and dusty roads filled with broken-down streetlights scattered across the country.

They also laughed because many of them were still struggling to make ends meet, find jobs after school, and get basic necessities such as hospitals, classrooms furniture, and even clean drinking water. In short, they laughed because they were still struggling to move past the first stage of Maslow’s theory of needs.

Does the Ashanti region need the sea for easier transportation of cargo according to Cheddar, or it needs better roads, an alternative and elaborate rail system that can link the coastal areas to the Ashanti region, and simple solutions to solve unemployment and other basic needs in the region?

When Cheddar declared his intention to enter politics in Ghana with his catchy political slogan “The New Force”, many Ghanaians thought they had finally found an alternative to the long-standing rule of the NDC and the NPP. However, Cheddar seems to be in a hurry to tell Ghanaians what he thinks they want to hear, and Ghanaians seem to have taken an early note and have drawn the lines.

Dredging the sea to the Ashanti region may seem too ambitious, but it also sounds like a statement that has not been thoroughly thought through. Even if such a project was possible today, it would still be very difficult to execute in the face of the dangers it will come with, red tape, the engineering efforts as well as the cost-benefit considerations such a project will attract.

It has become glaring that politics of the day seems to favor grandiose promises, but promises that do not address the basic, fundamental problems facing the ordinary Ghanaian will always sound like the joke they are.

In short, getting the sea to a landlocked region such as Kumasi, although an economic hub in Ghana will do little to improve economic activities in the region and Ghana as a whole. If the argument for venturing into such an overly superfluous project is to aid in the transportation of goods to and from the coastal areas, then an investment in trains, including speed trains, or an expansion of the current road network that already links the two regions, or even building an entirely new super-highway will be more feasible, transformative, sensible, and beneficial to the region and to Ghana.

Politics of the day must move beyond the normal rhetoric and sloganeering to addressing the basic challenges that confront the ordinary Ghanaian. Ghanaians are not yearning for a new force with old tricks or an old force with a new face. A new force must show seriousness beyond platitudes, unrealistic assurances, lip service, and grandstanding. The leader of the new force is showing early signs that the new force is indeed new, but even more shallow and perhaps, more dangerous than the old-faced political elite of the day.


The writer is a graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is a freelance journalist and a social activist based in the United States.

source: Redeemer Buatsi