Baba Yara Stadium is now ready for CAN 2008.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

KMA fails in decongestion exercise again. But this time accuse media of failure of exercise

The Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly has once again back-pedalled on the decongestion exercise it claimed it was embarking on a sustainable base to evict traders who have taken over walkways in the Central Business District of Kumasi.
This time around the Chief Executive of KMA, Ms Patricia Apiagyei has accused the media of not supporting the Assembly in the exercise resulting in the failure of the exercise.
Answering a question on the fate of the decongestion exercise at the NPP’s 16th anniversary press conference in Kumasi, Ms Appiagyei said before the KMA embarked on the decongestion exercise, it appealed to all residents of Kumasi and the media to support the exercise.
However, she said some sections of the media criticised the KMA and that explained why the exercise had been stalled.
“Some media men criticised us as well as politicised it that is why we have relented on the exercise. We thought we were in partnership with you but we were wrong. You find people back on the pavements because the media did not support us”, she said.
This accusation has however been denied by some media personnel, who have described the Chief Executive’s accusations as baseless and unfounded.
“Why should the Chief Executive be bothered about criticisms if the assembly was treading a just course by enforcing the bye-laws of the Assembly”, Mr Kojo Marfo of Angel FM said as he responded to the accusation.
He said the accusation of the city mayor cannot be wholly true. “Some of us supported the exercise to the letter and praised it”.
“We cannot understand why she is probably categorising criticisms from one or two persons to be a general criticism by the media. Besides as an authority in the city, she should be prepared to enforce the law and go about good initiatives for the city and shouldn’t be bothered so much about critics once the initiative was a good one”, Mr Marfo said.
Last year, the KMA embarked on the exercise to decongest the CBD of traders who had indiscriminately taken over the streets and the pavements and millions of cedis were spent on the exercise, yet the hawkers are still on the streets doing brisk business with its attendant socio-economic problems.
Assurances were given by the KMA that the exercise was not going to be a nine days’ wonder but would be sustained to enable residents to appreciate the need to comply with the directives of the KMA.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, at one of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs meetings charged the authorities of the KMA to gather the necessary political will to sustain the ongoing decongestion exercise in the metropolis.
Otumfuo told the leadership of the Assembly not to be afraid of the political consequences of the exercise but rather muster the courage to demolish all buildings and structures cited on waterways and unauthorised places to ensure sanity in the city.
He equally urged chiefs in Kumasi to support the Assembly to ensure the successful decongestion exercise in the city.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu then mentioned that the time had come to tell the people the truth that they could no longer do things the way they wanted but should follow right procedures in order to promote discipline in society and called for a passionate discussion on the decongestion exercise, while urging residents to desist from politicising the issue.
It is not clear what might have compelled the KMA, which in 2006 “blew” some GH¢100,000 on a similar abortive ejection exercise, to go back on its word in 2007, but the lack of political will, as the case has always been, cannot be ruled out.
However, Ms Appiagyei said, “we are not scared we would lose votes if we go back to sack the people”.
“It is because I was the only one under criticism. KMA needs the support of the entire residents of the metropolis and the media must be reminded that it has a role to play in that direction”, she said.
The activities of the hawkers, who have taken over pavements in the city centre, have compelled pedestrians to walk on the roads, putting them at great risk.
The irony of the whole situation is that the KMA collects daily tolls from these hawkers, whose very presence in the Central Business District is illegal, according to the bye-laws of the same KMA, thereby legalising an illegality in the process.
The decongestion exercise at its introduction was tailored to keep the hawkers out of the streets as there was going to be an influx of visitors to the city for the Ghana @ 50 celebrations and also for the 2008 Cup of Nations which saw Kumasi as one of the venues for the continental soccer fiesta.
Many were those who concluded at the time of the introduction of the exercise that, with this year being an election year, the decongestion exercise would be elapsed after the Ghana @ 50 and soccer fiesta celebrations.
Mr Edward Amedor of the Independent newspaper said he expected the KMA Chief Executive to face realities and admit that the decongestion exercise had hit the rocks instead of playing the blame game and shifting it on the media.
A huge number of petty traders have virtually hijacked the business district of the city which is seriously impeding the free flow of vehicles and pedestrians.
These lawless individuals have completely taken over all the pavements in the city centre and are busily going about their ‘normal’ duties as if there were no laws to bring them to order.

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