Street Naming Exercise Can Become White Elephant If…..

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Almost all the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the country, have all complied and met the deadline given by his Excellency the President, John Dramani Mahama, to have the streets in their localities named.

As we wait for the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development to honor the invitations extended to him to commissioned the streets, we will like to draw the attention of authourities to something that we are all probably missing and that is awareness creation.

We can erect nice sign Posts, with attractive names given to the streets, but if we fail to create the awareness about the various streets, we would have only wasted money for the exercise.

I remember back in my Secondary School days in Bishop Herman College in Kpando, despite the fact that all the Houses had names, we prefer to use the numerals to identify a particular House, for example, instead of St Augustine’s House, we prefer to say House One. Hardly will you ask a student, which House he is in, and he mention the name of the House, it is either House one, two, three etc.

Interestingly, even after school, when you meet an old student and the person asks you which House, you were in, your response is the same as in school.

Ghanaians, have proven overtime that we are averse to change, we prefer doing the things the same old ways, the status quo must never change and so any slight alteration in our accepted way of living, without the necessary education is bound to fail.

This is not the first time the country is attempting to have all the streets in Ghana named, except that this was followed with a Presidential directive with a conscious involvement of all the local authourities. Before I continue, I want to sound a word of caution; I wish that when all the streets are finally named, we will not be saddled with how much was spent on the exercise.

Often times, a laudable initiative is marred with corruption and the essence is lost along the way. Mention could be made of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authourity (SADA), which was instituted by the late President, John Evans Atta Mills to help bridge the development gap between the North and the South, turn out to be a money making machine for some individuals appointed to manage it.

What is most regrettable is that, all those given the responsibility to manage SADA, all came from the North and have come face- to- face with poverty, but yet at the end of the day, they created a mess there.

In order for the government to help reduce unemployment among the youth, the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), now christened Ghana Youth Employment Athourity (GYEEDA), was established; unfortunately it became an avenue for people to make money. Managers connived with service providers to milk the State by creating ghost names and inflating contract figures.

The greed on the part of some individuals has led to the cancelation of contract, leading to large number of youth staying at home, without any means of livelihood.

This government will be remembered as the administration to get all our streets named, but I hope that when the time comes for the accolades, it will not be eroded by how much various Assemblies had to spend just to name the streets.

The purpose of every policy is to benefit the people, for whose reason it was introduced, but if the policy does not sit well or resonate with the people, then there is no point in wasting the people’s scarce resources to do so.

It is good to have a photo section with officials of State, have television cameras, capture the moment and screen on prime time news, but at the end of it, are we all going back home and it is business as usual.

For Ghanaians to benefit from the street naming exercise, they must be involved in the awareness creation. They own the streets, they will be using it, so the question our authourities, should be asking ourselves is, how well do the people know their streets?

The Vice-President, Amissah Arthur, had to travel up north to see to the commissioning of some streets, his visit, should be followed with rallying the people in the various localities and getting them to appreciate the exercise.

If not, years down the line, we will still be using the same descriptions; we use to direct people to places.

My advice to the authourities is that, they should endeavor to involve drivers, especially taxi drivers, who are always the first point of contact anytime anybody visits an area or town.

It is my hope that they were consulted and their inputs sought before the street naming exercise across all the MMDAs even begun.

I will not be surprised, if this exercise was done without their input, yet they are suppose to know it by heart and convey people to places.

We always ready to put the cart before the horse, although it is not too late, 50 something years after Independence, one thing in this country must be done right.

Like it is with everything in this country, if care is not taking, all the signs that have been erected will fall off or pushed down by drivers into the gutters, because they do not understand it essence.

We should not wait until that happens, we should be proactive and start sensitizing people about the need to start using the new names to direct people and erect their signboards directing people to their shops.

It is a laudable initiative that should be embraced by all, but it behoves on the authourities how far and wide the consultation has gone, businessmen, market women, opinion leaders, as well as school children in all localities, should be brought on board to spread the good news.

Local FM stations could also be used to create awareness about the various streets, it is possible if only Authourities, will only think outside the box.

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