Tourism in Ghana is one of the high income earners for the economy, albeit a revenue downturn in 2014. The industry’s ministry continues to push for change that will rake in more returns and make the sector better.
Ghanaians have constantly been told to patronize their home tourism sector. This means we should stop dreaming about Burj al Khalifa and get excited over trees and some mowed grass at Aburi or a fleeting glimpse of Peduase Lodge instead. Speaking of which, Aburi is a beautiful place that should be felt and not just seen.
The ride from Accra overlooks a stunning view of the land below from the climb up to the mountainous area of Aburi. The view is to the right and leaves the left side of the road patterned with beautiful cut-into rocks. Except for that one boulder of rock that stops the heart and makes the traveler gasp for prayers unimagined: the death trap that has hung over the area for about two years.
With toll booths springing up even on manhole-infested roads in the country over the last 5 years (thereby defying the reason for toll booths), one would think that there is enough money generated to cater for newly constructed roads or highly maintained stretches.
Not the case, the state of many roads makes one wonder where the countless vehicles pass. Do they slide in air and vanish when they get to the toll booths? Or does money generated turn into worthless paper at the end of each day? As this is Ghana, some roads to major settlement and important areas in the country feature a high-earning toll booth but exhibit a grade zero state. The unfortunate part of it is that many key actors in government ply these routes.
The continued torture of panic to which the Aburi road subjects travelers is a clear attestation of the fact that the dead goat syndrome lives on. Despite connecting the capital to an important edifice, Peduase Lodge, and a popular tourist destination, Aburi Botanical Gardens (even classroom excursions are tourism boosters), not forgetting great schools, the Aburi road is only regarded for what it is (a transport system for people and things) and not for what it will could be (a crucial death zone) therefore showcasing the chronic symptom of the dead goat syndrome that has emaciatedthe actions of Ghanaian governments through different positions.
The apathy that slowly recreates our society from a state endowed with people who aim at fighting to transform the status quo to one that is splattered with tentacle-spreading-individuals who only look for what they can benefit from any situation has brought us nothing but life filled with danger where innocent citizens risk losing their lives.
Somehow, the existing state of affairs has “internalized” these life threatening situations after they have been consistently ignored because focus is thrown on other issues that, in literal terms, are not directly fatal to our existence. The subject of reference here is the fact that the government fails to deal with pertinent immediate problems but prefers to focus on problems such as the state of the economy whose welfare is, ironically, remotely linked to the overall state of the transportation system in the country.
The point is, as learnt in Junior High School Social Studies,— or Civic Education or whatever they need to call it these days to feel different— a good road system in the country equals a boom in economic activities for how else are we supposed to manage getting goods and services on the market? Unfortunately, the dead goat sits atop the common sense of our leaders.
How are we supposed to enjoy tourist locations the country offers with all these mind-shattering roads; the shake that you get when moving over some of these manholes and death traps is enough shatter your brain and discipline a child for life! And if you think you are coming from the northern side of Aburi and so you do not fall prey to the danger that rock has posed, think again! For what is tourism in Ghana if it does not include a walk on the famous Labadi beach?
Apathy does not work well in relation to the bad road network because we will always be bitten with the guilt of bloodshed in the name of those accidents which happen kilometres after vehicles have crossed the toll booths on those terrible roads. Anyone will question the occasion of a pang of guilt; to feel guilty, one needs conscience. But what good is conscience riled by apathy? It is good as expecting a conflict free relationship to happen between the U.S. and Russia; illusive.
Any system rife with apathy flourishes alternatives. For instance, if you will not do anything about it— when indeed you should be doing a lot of things about it such as fixing it— you can simply choose to ignore it every day and avoid looking at it when you pass by. Or you can effectively push for change in your sector and swerve underlying marks from other sectors that will put yours at its best.
The Tourism Ministry, the Trade Ministry, the Labour Ministry and all other ministries are networked by the Roads Ministry! Funny enough, apathy has a magical way of affecting the way these closely linked ministries work. Through the effective use of language, they can deny how all their projects remain dependent on the success of other agencies by separating the respective responsibilities of every ministry. They should know that they are bound by duty to one government. This is a government problem so they must all deal with it!
In Ghana, our apathy is classically called a dead goat. This goat is that one who treats all concerns and complaints as noise therefore leavingundone everythingthat will make a situation better. Forget that it is dead: the effects of its actions is conveniently named the dead goat syndrome. One can only hope for a resurrection as there is no resuscitation that will save it. A resurrection that may come several years too late because ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is only a string of words. This dead goat is one of those that lives on the road to Aburi.
Mildred Songsore Salia.
Student, University of Ghana.