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Barima’s Beefs VII: Will Nkran change . . . at last?

There’s a new sheriff in town. Will Henry Quartey, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, and his lieutenants succeed in making the capital city the jewel in Ghana’s crown?

News filtering out from the confusing mishmash of places that calls itself Nkran speaks of a new man out and about and trying to make Nkran “work again”. Even though I am in my holy city, Sunyani, Jack Dorsey’s website (also known as Twitter) has kept me informed about frenetic efforts by the newest regional minister in town, Henry Quartey, the MP for Ayawaso Central, to restore sanity to life in Nkran.

Over the Easter holidays, the beaches were closed off, this time for real (unbelievable, meboa*?), and guarded stringently by the police. Next thing we know, Quartey launches his “Make Accra [Nkran] Work” campaign by going to Kwame Nkrumah Avenue with a bulldozer to get “rid of structures on the shoulders of roads, clear traders who obstruct pedestrian movement off the pavements and allow for the free flow of vehicular traffic”.

Henry Quartey, Greater Accra Regional Minister, 2021
Henry Quartey is the new regional minister for Greater Accra


As the minister declared: “What is wrong is wrong, and it must be corrected so that we bring discipline back into the way we do our things to make Accra work.”

Bring back order

Quite surprising, isn’t it?

For the life of me, I did not believe that Nkran could ever be reformed. Over the years, it had become what a friend described as a forced marriage of slums, indigenous communities, nouveaux riches suburbs and vieux riches bastions, all showing a disregard for anything along the lines of urban planning or general order.

But (praise be) a glimmer of hope, in the shape of Henry Quartey, has begun to shine through – and perhaps, just perhaps, some order can emerge. And, my God, the people of Nkran have been ecstatic about the results of the latest developments.


Looking to the long term . . .

It is safe to say that many are impressed by Quartey’s actions, myself included.

After all, it is the Ghanaian way to celebrate such showy, gung-ho measures and declare them a new dawn.

Some sceptics, however, who have seen Ghana experience numerous “new dawns” and who are not impressed by these actions, have posed certain questions. “How do we ensure the momentum is sustained?” they ask. “How do we make sure that we can keep order in our capital?”

One answer to these questions popped up last week when news organisations published reports of pedestrians who had not used the Madina footbridge but chosen to cross the road directly instead, being caned by police officers.


While some have argued, somewhat compellingly, that corporal punishment is the only thing that will “teach” Ghanaians how to do the right thing, I cannot agree. We cannot continue to treat Ghanaians as some sort of special species that cannot be reprimanded in civil, humane ways.

There is nothing new under the sun, the saying goes, and if you look at other countries, you will see that they have deployed a slew of punishments such as fines and community service. I have no doubt that a system in which heavy fines are imposed on citizens for creating disorder of any sort will prove effective – if effective monitoring is put in place, that is. Without question, the regional minister is aware of this.

Indeed, I have a feeling that the new minister has a full plan ready and waiting and that he intends to implement it. Already, tree planting is taking place along the shoulder of the Madina-Adenta Highway. Is this a harbinger of 21st-century life in Accra, perhaps? I certainly hope so. Ghana, too, deserves good things, no?

The hope is that Quartey succeeds and makes Greater Accra a pleasant place to live. In the meantime, we will be observing!

Deo volente.

Barima Peprah-Agyemang

* “Meboa” translates into English as: “Am I lying?”

Barima Peprah-Agyemang (@fremebarima) is a writer and co-founder of Akensie, a Ghanaian history and popular culture trivia quiz start-up. He resides primarily in Sunyani in his native Bono Region

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online
Follow us on Twitter: @asaaseradio995
 #TheVoiceofOurLand  #MakeAccraWork

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