Editorial: Mahama Ayariga’s fantastic idea
Because we are now in the dry season, the protests from people seem to have gone down, but immediately the rains set in, we will begin to hear about the poor nature of the roads. Unfortunately, nobody can blame these protesters because after paying taxes, they expect the government to also execute her part of the social contract, by constructing their dilapidated roads.
The bottom line, however, is that though we are paying our taxes alright, these taxes are not enough to finance the construction of all the roads in Ghana and still get surplus funds to tackle challenges in the Health and Educational sectors. Road construction is a capital intensive project and without enough resources coming into the national kitty, it will be virtually impossible for any government to meet the expectations of the people.
The Chronicle, therefore, agrees with the targeting policy being implemented by the Ministry of Roads and Highways. Though all roads are important to the people of Ghana, the ministry, according to the sector head, Mr Kwaku Amoako-Atta, gives priority to certain roads that are of economic importance to the country. These priority roads are the ones leading to food and cash crop producing areas among others.
But, whilst admitting that the government has no other option than to implement this policy, it does not mean we should also throw our hands into the air, as a sign of despair, instead of thinking outside the box on how to generate enough revenue to tackle head-on, these numerous challenges bedevilling the road sector.
It is in line with this that The Chronicle fully supports the suggestion made to Mr Amoako-Atta, Minister-designate for Roads and Highways, when he appeared before the Appointments Committee yesterday, by the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga.
Mahama Ayariga had suggested to Mr Amoako-Atta, if he gets the nod of the Appointments Committee, to liaise with the Metropolitan and Municipal assemblies and see the possibility of increasing property rates to generate revenue to construct roads in the particular area. In our view, this is a good suggestion because the central government can go to the lending market and borrow money using the fund as collateral to construct the roads, as they are currently doing with the road fund.
In most gated communities in Accra, all their roads are tarred by the estate developers and paid for by those who purchase the houses. Though we admit that the implementation of such policies is going to meet the resistance of the masses, if the whole concept is well packaged and proper education done over a period of time, the people would come to appreciate the benefits they are going to derive.
In fact, roads in the new developing communities in Accra are in such a terrible state, yet you see mansions, which cost of construction runs into thousands of Ghana Cedis, if not millions of Cedis, springing up. The owners and occupants of these houses are normally those that we see driving flashy cars on our streets. The Chronicle does not, therefore, see how such people will reject the noble idea if they are assured that the money they are paying as property rates would indeed be used to build roads in their community for them to drive on.
We all enjoy the nice infrastructure in Europe and the United States of America anytime we travel to these western countries. But what we must not gloss over is the fact that they did not conjure money from heaven – they paid and are still paying a lot of taxes to develop to the level they are today.
Therefore, if we are also trying to emulate them, then we must be prepared to pay the realistic taxes that would help any government of the day to develop the road sector.
Though we support Mahama Ayariga’s brilliant idea, we wish to caution that it should not be extended to the district assemblies or areas where the people are poor and cannot afford the astronomical rise in property rates.
This policy, in our considered view, should be limited to urban centres where we have the middle to upper class people. Development or construction of roads in these poor areas should still be the preserve of the central government.