A former Deputy Communications Minister under the Mahama-led administration says the Akufo-Addo-led administration must be held responsible for the carnage that has occurred on the Madina-Adentan highway.
Felix Kwakye Ofosu said it was the responsibility of the government once it came into power to address all problems it inherited, including the unfinished works on the highway.
Its failure to do just that, therefore, is the reason lives have been lost and “it is surprising that even in the wake of this violent demonstration, we have had government officials refuse to take responsibility and go ahead to push blame on the previous administration.
“And if you follow that feedback that has emerged and the public backlash that government officials who have spoken this way have received, it shows clearly that the citizenry is not prepared for that kind of narrative anymore and that government simply should own up, take responsibility and do what needs to be done,” he said on Newsfile.
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A fresh protest by residents living at Madina-Adentan has forced government to take action on some six uncompleted footbridges on the highway.
Tyres we set on fire during the protests
The violent protests came after an 18-year-old student was knocked and killed by a taxi driver on the highway on Thursday.
The first-year West African Secondary School (WASS) student was on her way to school when the unfortunate incident occurred sparking the riots that left motorist in traffic for hours.
Police put the death toll on the highway, this year alone, at 24 with 164 injuries.
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Many months of protests by the residents for streetlights, road signs and the footbridges to be completed in order to save lives were ignored by government but the death of the female student was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
Government has responded by awarding contracts for the completion of the six footbridges, ordered road markings to be done, road signs fixed and the streetlights have also been turned on.
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Contributing to the discussion on Newsfile, Mr Kwakye Fosu said had government prioritised when it took office, the project would have been completed and the many lives that have been lost would not have occurred.
“At the time that we were leaving office in 2016, the road itself has been completed, concrete slabs and pillars have been erected for footbridges to serve pedestrians. What was left was some finishing touches that would ensure that it was in good shape for pedestrians to use.
“Two years in my view is sufficient for the government to have fixed these footbridges. They have had plenty of opportunity and resources to do it. It does appear that they did not prioritise the completion of these footbridges. Because in terms of scope and scale, it is minimal compared to the overall size of that project. What they needed was just a little push in order to address it,” the former deputy minister said.
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He found it surprising that having failed to do so, government officials in the wake of demonstrations have refused to take responsibility but are pushing blame on the previous administration.
“Having assumed office it was the duty of the government to complete it but if you do not complete it and people complain and they stage demonstrations, you need to be sincere and candid and admit that there was some laxity or lapse in your approach.”
Baako points to selective amnesia
The Editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper, on the other hand, disagrees with the former deputy minister’s comments.
Kweku Baako finds the politicisation of the issue unfortunate and would have loved if debates on it were devoid of partisan elements.
Providing a history for the project, the newspaper editor said funds for the project was sourced in 2008 and contract was awarded the same year for work to begin in 2009.
Referring to a design review document dated September 2014, Baako said as far back as 2014 the project had stalled because of lack of funds, almost two years before the NDC lost power. He found it intriguing how the NDC will create the impression that the contractor was on site in 2016.
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“Page 49 of the document details progress on traffic lights and footbridges. On traffic lights it said only metal poles are currently in position. On streetlights, works have commenced and 23 solar lights installed at six different locations. On footbridges, works have reached an appreciable stage on the six footbridges. The main elements outstanding on the footbridges are the approaches, landings and guard raids. The outstanding works can be aggregate at 25 percent,” he said.
Mr Baako wondered what the Mahama-led administration did about the report two clear years before it lost power, accusing its officials of “selective amnesia.”
From the period the project stalled to the point the NDC lost power, Kweku Baako said the Mahama led administration could have completed it if it was committed to do so.
One of the uncompleted footbridges on the highway
He was also quick to blame the Akufo-Addo-led administration for not prioritizing the stretch of road and completing it, having been in power for nearly two years.
The veteran journalist found the partisan approach by the two parties very pathetic.
“This selective amnesia that informs our discourse because we seek partisan advantage, otherwise my brother [Kwakye Fosu] should have also considered that if by 2014 this was the status if the footbridge and from 2014 to 2016 they couldn’t deliver but you are able to question why this administration also has not delivered, then they are excluding their line of responsibility to gain partisan political capital,” he noted.
Mr Baako said the design review report shows clearly that the Mahama-led administration fails in delivering on the certificate that was put out.
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“And that is why the contractor by 2015 though still on site, was executing absolutely nothing. So anybody who comes to tell you that by December 2016 the contractor was working, tell the person that I say he is peddling an obvious untruth, not a lie.”