Community Developments

Yes, more hotels for Busua!! Guess someone knows something about the future of tourism that I haven’t learned yet. If more people are investing money in the sector they must have heard that we are soon going to be deluged by tourists, something that we have not seen so far.  So that can only mean good things for all of us, right?

Well, aside from the question of economic viability, there are a few concerns that these new hotels raise. If you look at the photos above and below, you will see three hotels under construction. In the foreground is the latest entre into the search for tourism dollars, a partnership of two Italians and a Ghanaian that, according to the contractor, will offer between 13 and 15 rooms.

The roof in the background is for another two storey hotel which faces onto the ocean. Work on it was stopped several years ago by Town and Planning for a lack of building permit. The owner, a Ghanaian living abroad, has returned to Ghana recently and is currently in a tussle with the chief and with Town and Planning as she tries get access from her property to the roadside. Notice that her access, which was already blocked by the electrical pole now will be further limited to a narrow walkway by the new building that is underway.

The third hotel is to the right of the others. Work on it was also stopped several years ago for lack of a building permit. Access to that hotel was also being restricted by other buildings.

Access – something that common sense should instruct developers that is their responsibility to ensure long before a project is undertaken. Access – something that common sense should instruct Town and Planning officers that should be a requirement before any building permit is every issued.

And what about water and sewage? Busua is not serviced by piped water yet and thus relies on shallow wells. Busua village already experiences water shortages during the rainy season in the past and with an increasing population in the village and with added pressure from new hotels, the situation will most certainly become more critical. Water quality will also become a problem, not only from salinization which follows as the water table is depleted but more alarmingly from sewage contamination when septic tanks and their soak-aways are placed in closer and closer proximity to wells.

Does anyone see what I see? Who is taking responsibility for this situation that continues? Would it be so difficult for Town and Planning officers to tell developers that they are not allowed to build their dreams? Are they so strapped for development projects that they are willing to approve anything that comes across their desk? I don’t thing so. Do we feel sorry for developers who blind themselves to the most obvious requirements for such a project? I don’t think so.

There are many of us in the hospitality sector in this Region who have gone through the proper channels when constructing our businesses. We were guided by common sense and by building codes and we worked with authorities to ensure that our structures met requirements, and we should expect that newcomers be subjected to the same guidelines. We count on Town and Planning officers to carry out their duties with proper diligence to ensure that tourism in our communities continues to be a positive force for healthy economic development. We are watching.

My hotel is located on the coast of Ghana and there was a time not so long ago that visitors came to our dining room because they knew that they could enjoy fresh fish from the ocean. That is no longer the case. The reason? because WE OFTEN CANNOT BUY FRESH FISH!!!! This is not for a lack of trying. The local fishermen go out every day in the hopes that they will bring back something to feed their families plus some fish to sell for cash. Often they return empty handed.

And yet what do we see along the coast? Here at Busua? At Akwadae? At Cape Three Points? At Axim? At Beyin? At Half Assini?

Foreign fishing trawlers, working close to shore, in an area in which they have been forbidden…. I have seen these foreign trawlers frequently, and I have never seen a vessel from the Ghanaian navy challenge them. When will it end? When ALL of the fish are gone?





Survey stake on the road near Cape Three Points


Yesterday I returned from Cape Three Points. While I was there, I visited the palace. After greeting the chief, I asked him about the survey markers that I had seen on the road leading to the village. The information that he had been given is that a coastal road, first conceived by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and stretching from Dixcove all the way to Jewi Wharf, will be constructed by a Chinese contractor. I snapped one of the surveyors on my return – see the next photo. I was subsequently told that a Korean contractor has been given the job. I wonder what the real situation is? Stay tuned – I hope to meet with the Ahanta West District Chief Executive to see if he can shed some light on the situation.

Several questions run through my mind. Considering the multitude of lagoons that mark this stretch of coastline, what is the projected costs, both financial and environmental, of such a proposed road? Anyone who is familiar with this part of the country will ask the same question. Who is funding this project? What is the real purpose of such a road? What is the time frame? How does this relate to the 2012 election?


This surveyor was spotted working on the road between Akwadae and Cape Three Points yesterday.


This past Saturday, I sat in the backed up traffic somewhere between Mallam Junction and Keneshie Market in Accra, edging my way one car length at a time along with everyone else who was intent on leaving the capital. Somewhere behind us, I could hear the wail of a siren and along with my fellow travellers, we all tried our best to move to the side to make way for the emergency vehicle that we thought was desperately trying to make its way through. There was very little room to maneuverer in the cramped conditions and even after our best efforts there were only a few feet between my car and the taxi beside me.

Suddenly a police motorcycle was beside us, weaving his way between the crush, followed abruptly by a second one. The rider of the second one reached out and with obvious intent smashed the mirror off the taxi, waving his fist and directing some deleterious comment  towards the hapless taxi driver who sat defenceless as he watched his mirror soaring through the air before crashing to the pavement and smashing into pieces.

My passengers and I had not even had time to vent our outrage at the unnecessary actions of this policeman when a cavalcade of  six shiny black Toyota LandCruisers sped by, each emblazoned with the logo of CARE International, the passengers comfortably hidden behind air conditioned smoked glass and oblivious of the threat to everyone’s safety that they were causing and quite obviously un-CAREing about the plight of the taxi driver whose car had just been damaged.

After they had passed, the driver retrieved the remains of his mirror, and we all continued to shuffle our way towards the edge of the city. The officials of CARE International presumable were off somewhere to “defend dignity” and to “fight poverty” while the rest of us were left to live our real lives to the best of our ability, without the benefit of a police escort to take us through the chocked traffic that is so much a part of the daily grind of Ghanaians who reside in Accra.

The actions by this organization are not surprising to most citizens in this country and the 69 others in which it operates, but it should give cause for concern to those people overseas who make donations to CARE. In 2009, the total contributions totaled in excess of US$700,000,000. Somewhere in the zeros, this organization has lost respect for the people that they say they are out to assist. Apparently with all those zeros, their time is much more valuable than that of the rest of us.


Red Bull and other energy drinks

I was recently sitting with a friend at one of Accra’s landmark spots enjoying a cold beer and catching up on recent events in our lives. One of the illuminated signs over the bar stuck in my mind and set me to thinking the following day. The sign was promoting the well-known Red Bull energy drink, enjoyed by many, I am told, who wish to “enhance” the effects of the alcoholic beverage that they are consuming. My interest was not so much in the drink but rather of the aluminum can in which the drink is contained.

The popularity of the drink, and the very can itself, are a mockery of this country – a country, rich in bauxite but one that relies on outside sources for its aluminum requirements. Even now, Ghanaian bauxite that could be so easily turned into cans to contain the “energy drink” consumed by countless Ghanaians is shipped from Takoradi to be refined somewhere else in the world, in one of those bitter ironies of this modern capitalist age. At one time, Ghana provided cheap electricity to refine someone else’s bauxite, and now when the country could benefit significantly from refining its own resources, the economic “masters” of the world have found a cheaper source of electricity than ours to do that job. Once again, the economic interests of Ghana and Ghanaians have been sacrificed for the economic benefit of foreign corporations.

How many know the story? A tale of the economic colonizer convincing a newly “independent” country to construct a dam, a dam that flooded a vast area of agricultural land and destroyed forests which contained valuable timber resources and once provided the ingredients for traditional medicines to keep the nearby inhabitants healthy. The story of promises that the rich bauxite resources of the country would be refined here, and thus create an industrial base for the further economic development of the country.

Instead, what happened? Well, the dam was constructed, with loans from willing “donor” nations thus putting the county into debt and subjecting it’s government to outside financial controls. Contracts were signed to guarantee that cheap electricity would be used to refine bauxite but instead of extracting the ore from Ghana, it was brought in from the mines of some other hungry country, leaving Ghanaian bauxite in the ground for many more years.

The initial contracts guaranteed cheap electricity rates for just long enough for the economic colonizer to maximize its profits, and then, with turbines worn out and silted up and in need of expensive refurbishment, they abandoned the ship and moved on to other greener pastures.

Meanwhile other economic colonizers have stepped up to the plate, more than willing to continue the plunder of the country. The bauxite resources were still an attraction, and so they were brought out of the ground and sent outside to be refined. The country continued to aid in its own exploitation. The rail system which was built by the political colonizer was for a time used to transport the ore to the harbour but it soon fell into disrepair. So the ore is now transported by a large fleet of multi-axle truck trailers using the road system, further contributing to environmental global warming and also adding substantial wear and tear on an already overstressed highway system – a system which in turn the “independent” government borrows money to rebuild, once again, placing itself in debt and under the control of outside financial sources.

And the cycle repeats itself…. How addictive an “energy” drink becomes. The energy of a people and their resources – addicted to continued and continual control by outside economic colonizers.

This is a typical roadside in Zanzibar – check it out. NO PLASTIC BAGS!! NO BLACK POLY BAGS!! NO WATER SACHET BAGS!!! Amazing to see, especially for someone like myself who lives in Ghana, where plastic bags have become part of the local scenery, and where government officials and business people and consumers have collectively chosen to look the other way and completely ignore the damage that continues to be done to our environment.

Have another look, a little closer this time….

So, you may ask – how did the folks in Zanzibar manage to do this? Well, it really wasn’t all that difficult. The government passed legislation making it illegal for shopkeepers to give out plastic bags and they also made it illegal to sell water in sachet bags. The citizens responded by using woven baskets and cloth bags and jute sacks and re-useable wooden crates when they are doing their shopping. The government made potable water available for the people. Voila!! Clean roadsides, unclogged gutters, no plastic bags floating in the rivers, streams and ocean – absolutely a pleasure to walk the streets in village and city, and drive along the roads and highways! Congratulations, Zanzibar!! And Ghana?? well, you can see that the example has been set – let us see if we have the collective will to follow it. Happy Earth Day!



Well, perhaps it is not fair to bring Barrack Obama into the issue, but what about the saying that all is fair in love and politics? Does anyone remember my posts from June regarding the disgraceful way in which the Ghana Highways Authority treated the people who rely on the highway conduit between Cape Coast and Kumasi?

Well, I have this past week travelled back to New Edubiase over the same Pra Bridge which the contractor had so shamelessly (and needlessly) closed while he made his “repairs”. And guess what I found? Yes, this be Ghana. The repairs have not been completed, and the work that has been done is of a dreadfully inferior nature.

Honourable Minister of Highways, do you have anything to say? Head of Ghana Highways Authority, please tell us what you are doing about this unacceptable situation. Media players, Opposition Members, here is your chance – come and see it for yourself. Is this acceptable? How long do you think it will be before this bridge is no longer capable of carrying the load?

The people who regularly traverse this road are already suffering from the continued lack of maintenance. In fact, New Edubiase is better known for the potholes in that stretch of highway between the Pra River and itself than it is for its new winning football challengers, New Edubiase United!!

Mr President, you were in nearby Obuasi this past weekend. Did you dare to venture further south? Perhaps your advisors had warned you – avoid that area because the highway is a death trap. Well, Sir, you and your people have promised the people of Ghana that you will not abandon your supporters in New Edubiase and area. This is your opportunity to exhibit some good will – speak to your Highways Minister; ask him to do the right thing; hold the contractor accountable; patch the gaping potholes and craters that make traffic on this highway so dangerousr; repair the bridge in a proper fashion. Mr. President, show us with actions and not just billboards that you are a partner with the people of Ghana for positive change.

The unfinished job


Is this correct work, Mr Minister of Highways?


The Town of Maidstone tackled the challenge of economic development 30 years ago. They looked at the way that prairie small towns were going and decided that they had to be pro-active if they were going to keep their town economically viable. They zoned an area as an Industrial Park, provided services to the area, and actively promoted their community as an excellent location in which to do business. The Industrial Park was removed from the residential and business areas in the town, ensuring that those areas were not disrupted by the noise and machinery of that area.

Industrial Park 2WHAT CAN WE DO?

Town Planning departments are already zoning for commercial and residential areas in towns although they often do not enforce their own by-laws when industrial businesses are established in areas which are not zoned for that purpose.

District Assemblies could be much more proactive in generating economic activities in their areas if they were to take an approach similar to that which Maidstone took. By focusing some of their attention on industrial parks they could create more employment and give young people more reason to stay home instead of moving to the cities in search of work.


Before there were villages, mankind lived in nature and we have not forgotten our past. We all enjoy being in “natural” places, where we can be in touch with our ancestral past. That is why western societies have placed such a value on “green space.” A man-made lake was created on the edge of Maidstone, with trout introduced. The area is very popular for those who walk for exercise and families who gather for picnics. In the downtown area, a lot became vacant when an old building was demolished. Rather than rebuilding on the lot, a small “green area” was created with benches to sit on and flowers and shrubs to enjoy.


Town planners can insist that areas be set aside within communities which provide shade and healthy places for children to play, and for adults to gather and visit. This is increasingly important in larger centres where urban living takes people further away from their rural roots.


Communities need a place where they can gather for various events. In Saskatchewan ice hockey and figure skating remain popular sports and Maidstone constructed and continues to operate and maintain their Arena for this and many other purposes. A Trade Fair  is held each year to attract and maintain economic growth in the community. The High School hosts two invitational volleyball tournaments annually and the Arena is used for this purpose. The building and its equipment are maintained through a combination of operational revenue, tax grants plus a substantial amount of volunteer labour by active citizens.


Most towns and villages have playing fields which serve a dual purpose, for football, and for funerals and durbars. Occasionally those areas are sacrificed and sold – let us insist that our leaders remember the importance of community gatherings. Not all communities may be able to afford to build structures, but all can keep an area open for that purpose.

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