If I were the President…

There are several pertinent issues that must be prioritised if we are to move forward as a nation and therefore if I were the President of the Republic of Ghana…

I would prioritise Town Planning and ensure that, an effective monitoring system of town planning officials are in place.  Most of the problems associated with disasters in our country are linked to the haphazard manner structures are sited in the towns and cities across the country.

Flooding in some areas are attributed to the structures that are built on water ways so that when it rains, the flow of water is impeded and it builds up and start entering peoples’ homes, destroying property worth thousands of cedis. Roads also get flooded and occasionally lives are lost. 

Stretches of highways get flooded and economic activities are affected due to long queues of vehicles that are generated because the roads becomes impassable for a long time till the level of the flood goes down.

In other instances, the vehicles are restricted to only one lane.  The major cause of these floods along the highways are due to filling of wetlands along the highways that are supposed to trap the excess water from the communities, but have been sold to developers and have been filled up and structures built, something that could have been prevented if town planning officials had done their job. 

The reported incidents of fire tenders not being able to quench fires, due to lack of access to the place where the fire occurred are countless.  This is something that should not happen if efficient town planning is in place and the responsibility falls squarely at the doorsteps of the Town and Country Planning Department.

If I were the President, I would ensure that there would not be anything called ‘kayaye’ in this country.  Why should young girls be deprived of the opportunity of pursuing their dreams by obtaining adequate education, in order to unleash their God given talents for their own benefit and the benefit of society at large?

When you go to places where these young girls and women sleep, they are basically condemned to a life of misery.  There are numerous cases of attempted rape and teenage pregnancy and a whole lot that happen to these ‘kayaye’ which is clearly a blot on our drive as a country to promote the rights of the girl child. 

A deliberate policy should be adopted to address this issue by enforcing the law that makes it compulsory for every child to be in school and also create the enabling environment up north, to motivate people to stay in their communities instead of moving down south for non-existent opportunities.

I would relocate the residents of Old Fadama and Agbogbloshie Market to enable work on the Odaw river beautification project to go on.  The Accra Beautification Project which was to have happened by end of 2008 is still in limbo due to lack of political will.

 Relocating residents and the market to Adjen Kotoku area, would help in decongesting the central business district of Accra and more importantly be a source of income generation for Accra Metropolitan Assembly.

The perennial challenge of how to resolve the budget deficit would be tackled by initiating an entrepreneurial drive through a closer collaboration between industry and the universities. 

There are numerous research projects that have the potential to greatly impact our industrialisation drive but are gathering dust on the shelves in our universities. 

The setting up of a system of collaboration between industry and academia, that will sieve through these projects, to identify those with potential for implementation, must be prioritised.

The need for regulating activities of religious leaders, to curtail a lot of anti-social behaviour that has characterised the activities of some so called Men of God, would be prioritised.  An acceptable way of licensing must be introduced by a regulatory body, made up of the leaders of the established Orthodox Churches and the Charismatic Churches.

 They would determine the promotion and therefore who qualifies to be called a Pastor,Bishop etc. instead of the current situation where people in what is known as one-man churches, ascribe titles to themselves.  Such a regulatory body should be clothed with the powers to sanction pastors, whose behaviour goes contrary to sound doctrine. 

A system that would reduce the discretionary power of the judiciary as much as possible, would be put in place.  Legislation would be crafted such that sentencing of say drug offenders, would be made based on the amount of drugs in terms of weight found on the offender.

 I would also ensure that there are undercover auditors who would attend court hearings to monitor the rulings of the judiciary to ensure that justice is served.

The cry for affirmative action would be prioritised and implemented.  Legislation would be enacted to compel political parties to reserve most of their safe seats for women as the first step in ensuring enough representation of constituencies by women in parliament. 

The positive impact of this on both the social and economic life of the country, cannot be quantified.  Shelters for abused children and women would also be prioritised to help protect our women and children.

The funding of the NHIS must be prioritised to ensure a healthy nation to prevent the issue of service providers always threatening to withhold their services due to government defaulting on payment for services rendered.  Infrastructure to enable implementation of Telemedicine would also be prioritised to ensure an effective health delivery system and also facilitate the acquisition of cutting-edge knowledge by our health practitioners.

The issue of accidents caused by vehicles left on the roads, would be a thing of the past.  Furthermore, heavy trucks that are usually parked on the shoulders of highways, with mechanics working on them, spilling fuel and oil that gradually causes the roads to deteriorate, would also not be tolerated. 

In fact, such negligence would be criminalised and offenders would be severely punished.           I would ensure provision of rest areas so that such trucks can park off the road for the drivers to rest and also to fix mechanical problems they have so they would not have any excuse to use the main road for such activities.

Laud Kissi-Mensah

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