Editorials and Opinions

The agonizing dance to Sissala Land

Wa, Nov. 10, GNA – It is a painful but compulsory dance that is without melody and rhythm. It is a free-style dance that does not need any special skill or rehearsal to perform.

Wa, Nov. 10, GNA – It is a painful but compulsory dance that is without melody and rhythm. It is a free-style dance that does not need any special skill or rehearsal to perform.

In fact it has been described by those who have ever experienced it as one that can cause a pregnant woman to undergo induced labour or a miscarriage – a kind of dance that shakes the bone to the marrow.

It is also a dance after which one needs painkillers to enable one to sleep at night. Sleeping tablets may sound like an exaggeration, but it is what those who have experienced it would recommend for people who performed the dance to aid them to sleep at night.

An annual dance which is worse performed during rainy seasons, it has been the painful torture of the people of the Upper West Region, especially the Sissala people for several decades now, a dance they yearn to bring to an end.

The Sissala area even though dependent on rain-fed agriculture is still noted as one of the food baskets of the country. When the seasonal rain is at its peak, one would have thought that as farmers the people would be happy but that is not entirely the case.

This is because the rains will intensify the dance, thereby, raising the level of the pain. It is a dance that the late President John Evans Atta Mills acknowledged in his “Thank You” tour of the Upper West Region in 2009 after winning the 2008 general elections.

“I have seen it, the dancing. I have seen it all, I need not to be told again”, he said. This dance is the dance one has to perform when travelling to the eastern part of the Region, the Sissala land.

It is a dance that succeeding governments promised to help bring to an end, yet every year the story is either the same or even moves to an aggravated level.

 It is sad for one to make a journey on the 335-kilometer Wa-Tumu road performing this agonistic dance throughout the journey, with the entire body shaken to the bone. That is the terrible state of the Wa-Hain-Tumu road.

The road is so terrible that almost half of the journey is made through the gutter. Communities along the road are now fed up and are resorting to blocking the gutters which in my opinion have become better than the main road with tree stems and big stones obviously to prevent vehicles from using the gutters.

Whether their action is right or wrong, one thing is clear and that is if you will not maintain the road, we will not allow you to use the gutter.

The Sissala people and, indeed, the entire people of the Region rejoiced when Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani was appointed by President John Dramani Mahama to the Roads and Highways Ministry.

Their action premised on the saying that no matter the level of hunger at a poor man’s funeral, at least the one whose mother is in the kitchen will definitely have something to eat.

This was confirmed by President Mahama when he came to the Region to cut sod for the Wa urban water expansion project.

“You now have one of your own in charge of the Roads and Highways Ministry, if by the end of 2016 your roads are still bad blame him”, he said.

This statement attracted a lengthy applause from the enthusiastic gathering, as their hope was further strengthened by the adage that the one whose mother is in the funeral kitchen will certainly not go hungry, no matter the circumstance.

The people knowing that times are hard kept on believing and praying for a miracle to happen for things to become better for their son and government to be able to do something about the nature of the roads.

The news about the removal of Alhaji Sulemani from the Roads and Highways Ministry therefore came to the people as a big blow.

Hopes and expectations were dashed and rhetorical questions began to set in. “Is this the end of the road? What happens to the story of bad roads in the Sissala land and the entire Region?” Kuoro Barecheh Nlowie Baninye, the Acting President of the Buwa Traditional Council asked.

Commercial Drivers:

Commercial drivers who ply the road on daily basis could not hide their frustration when this reporter visited the Wa-Tumu station to have a chat with them.

Zakaria Moro, a middle-aged Driver complained about the amount of time spent on the road due to its bad state. “The two and a half hour journey has now become a four hour journey”, he said.

The situation often creates problems between them and the passengers as they pour their frustration on the drivers who find it difficult to move faster because of the bad nature of the road.

Abdul-Rahim Nanjo, a regular driver on the road complained that due to the bad nature of the road, car maintenance cost takes greater part of what they get on each trip.

This situation according to him makes it difficult for them to make ends meet. He pleaded that government should try as much as possible to gravel the road if even it cannot tar it completely.

Mr. Lawrence Lamptey, Upper West Regional Director of the Ghana Highway Authority said the Region was the poorest in terms of road infrastructure in the country but attributed it to the fact that it was also the youngest region in the country.

He said the Region has 1,147 kilometers of trunk roads, and out of this, 151.8 kilometers representing about 13.2 per cent are paved and 743.5kms representing 64.8 per cent are unpaved.

A total of 251.4kms representing 21.9 per cent are under construction.

Mr. Lamptey said out of the total length, 126.9 kilometers  (84 per cent) of paved roads are in good condition while the remaining 24.9kms which represent 16 per cent are in fair condition.

For the unpaved roads, 184.6kms (25 per cent) are in good condition while 428.2kms which represent 58 percent are in fair condition. A total of 130.7kms representing 18 per cent are in poor condition.

Mr. Lamptey noted that the region had two road areas, namely Wa road area and the Tumu road area, explaining that since Wa was the regional capital, most of the paved roads started from there.

On the Wa-Hain-Tumu road, Mr. Lamptey said the first phase which was about 30kms was awarded to P and W Ghanem in 2010, saying the project was about 40 per cent complete now and that the contractor was currently not on site because of lack of funds.

He noted that the next 24kms was in the process of being awarded, adding that the Hain-Tumu road had been re-gravelled and that some proposals had been made to the Road Fund to approve for it to be surfaced.

He hinted that 10kms of the Tumu-Wellembelle road had been given out on contract for upgrading indicating that the Department had made it a policy to have regular re-gravelling activities after the rains to make the roads passable.

Again the Department often embarked on an all-year-round pot hole patching on all tarred roads in the region.

Mr. Lamptey pointed out that illegal speed ramps was a very big problem in the region and that communities alleged that vehicles over speed and kill their animals, hence, the erection of the illegal and unauthorized speed ramps.

“There are several ways to check speeding of vehicles which our engineers have taken it upon themselves to educate members of the communities.”

Good roads have numerous benefits including easy transportation of goods and services from rural communities to urban centers, reduction in travel time and attracting potential investors, among others.

These benefits have to a large extent eluded the people of the Region especially the Sissala people where most of the Region’s worse roads are located.

It is high time the government listened to the cry of the people and put the smiles back on their disappointed faces by doing something about the bad roads in the Upper West Region.

It is only then that the much dreaded dance alluded to at the beginning of this write-up would be lifted off the weary shoulders of the people of the area, so they can heave a sigh of relief.

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