By Gifty Arthur
Former President Jerry John Rawlings, has said that he used to get very angry at owners of waste management giant, Zoomlion for the monopoly the company enjoyed— especially under his successor, John Agyekum Kufuor.
Mr Rawlings said, it beats him why the government allowed the company to enjoy so much monopoly in the waste management sector at the detriment of other equally good companies.
In his view, it did not make sense, when huge amount of the district assembly funds were allocated to Zoomlion, while other companies, were left out.
Mr Rawlings who made this disclosure at the 12th annual thanksgiving service of the JOSPONG Group of Companies, last Friday in Accra, said he wanted the sector to be diversified, but that wish never happened until recently.
He said, he only began to appreciate the works of the Executive Chairman of the company, Dr. Joseph Siaw Agyapong after the party he founded, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), won political power and he saw some of its members, associating with him.
“This group of companies, much as I used to get angry at the mention of them in the beginning, I used to ask myself, how many people will dig in and do this kind of work?
Why was I getting angry? Because, I had heard that a huge percentage of the district assembly’s budget had been calved out to them alone. No competitors, yes no competitors, so much money and I thought you know some of that money should have been calved out to other private entrepreneurs talking about the private sector in order to introduce many others and ensure that there was competition.
But no, it all went to this man. And then when we came into office, I thought maybe some of these things will change but the first thing I saw one day on TV, was so many of our MPs were congratulating this man. What is happening in this country? Has he reached these ones too already?”
The former leader who had to eat humble pie said the generosity of Dr. Siaw Agyapong knows no bound as he has on some occasions come to his aid to help him fund certain responsibilities. “No, this man has a kind heart. So many medical situations, funerals, children’s fees that I have had to deal with. I couldn’t have handled if people like him occasionally did not assist me”, he revealed.
Mr Rawlings confession, confirms the victimization Zoomlion had to go through when the NDC won power in 2009 under late Prof. Evans Atta Mills.
The late President and then later former President John Mahama at a point in their administrations, admitted that some bigwigs of the NDC, wanted the monopoly of Zoomlion enjoyed slashed so that other private companies in the sanitation sector, also benefitted from government contracts.
He commended Dr Siaw Agyapong for employing a good number of Ghanaians, introducing logistics and his foresight, saying “creating and building does not come easily” adding that even though initially his information was that he started from a kiosk, which he thought if it was true, he had done well for himself and the country in its fight against filth.
According to Mr Rawlings, even though the fight against filth has still not been won, he believes but for the contribution and intervention of Zoomlion, the situation would have been worst comparatively. He described as “uncivilized” the attitude of dumping refuse anywhere simply because law enforcers have failed.
He commended government for setting up the Ministry of Sanitation and opening up the waste management portfolio for competition.
Mr Rawlings, said Ghana lost the fight against filth when powers of tradition rulers were taken away and given to government to deal with citizens who litter the environment.
He explained that in the past when these rulers wielded the power to reward and punish citizens, it brought some level of social responsibility, as it made it impossible for people to misbehave because they knew that if they did, they will be called to order and punished to serve as a deterrent to others.
To win the fight against filth, Mr Rawlings, suggested the need for communities to form vigilante groups as it is “an absolute necessity” and “an absolute must”.
To him, vigilantes protecting the environment, for instance, can help prevent random and persistent dumping of refuse on the streets. Mr. Rawlings said the vigilantes will, therefore, complement the efforts of security agencies.
He suggested that, even before offenders are handed to law enforcers, they should be “disciplined”.
The event which attracted all kinds of grouping was used to encourage opinion leaders such as pastors to use the pulpit and all public forums to “educate ourselves” on the scourge of poor environmental habits.
Dr. Siaw Agyapong, who was full of praise to God, said the journey which began some twelve years ago has been rough, but they are encouraged insisting that the companies were on course to achieve greater height. He expressed gratitude to successive governments.
He thanked Mr Rawlings for honouring the group’s invitation, saying his presence at the event was an endorsement of his support for the private sector.
Dr. Siaw Agyapong, commended everyone, including it thousands of workers whose contribution has made JOSPONG group of companies where it is today.
Chairman of Church of Pentecost, Eric K. Nyamekye, who preached on the theme “seed sowing” admonished Ghanaians, especially politicians, to desist from making promises that are difficult to fulfill.
Apostle Nyamekye said, the development of Ghana, should not be rushed and compared to older democracies which took many years to get to where Ghana is aspiring to be.
He said “Our politicians should have the patience and sympathy to sow for our future. Don’t eat the grains today, because it’s for the future.
Let politicians give Ghana the space to sow in tears. Ghana is not for you, stop disturbing Ghana. Don’t compare us to US. Let politicians and our traditional leaders, opinion leaders roll up their sleeves and serve”.