Friday, 13 February 2015

The Hon. Mahama Ayariga, The Hon. Kofi Adams, Zoomlion, Plastic Lumber & Plastic Roads

 As implied by the title, today's posting muses over a number of topics and issues - and  shares my opinions about them with readers. Please read on:


Not having heard it myself, if it is indeed true that the minister for youth and sports, the Hon. Mahama Ayariga, told a journalist interviewing him on radio that Ghanaian journalists ask "useless questions", then in my humble view, it was a most unfortunate remark for a man in his position to make.

A government minister in a developing nation that is so desperately short of money to fund many sorely-needed development projects, ought to understand that for patriotic and professional reasons, Ghanaian journalists are duty-bound to demand accountability from public officials in the disbursement of taxpayers' money.

More so, when it comes to the murky world of the funding of sundry activities around the senior male national soccer team, the Black Stars - ranging from the extremely wasteful business of flying planeloads of 'supporters' of the Black Stars out of Ghana to support the team, during its overseas matches, to the outrageous and dubious  enterprise, of paying "winning bonuses" to officials of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), who are members of the so-called "management team" of the Black Stars.

In case it escapes the Hon. Mahama Ayarigas in our midst, this is actually a constitutional democracy, not a dictatorship. Under our system, government ministers are answerable to the people of Ghana - on whose behalf the media act as society's watchdogs: a role in which they ask questions of government appointees on ordinary people's behalf whenever the need to do so arises.

It will not hurt him politically, if the Hon. Mahama Ayariga apologised to the Ghanaian media, for his unfortunate remark - especially as it gives the impression that he has become a tad arrogant. Saying that with the benefit of hindsight, he should have done better in his choice of phraseology - and therefore apologises to the Ghanaian media for his choice of words on that occasion - will not do him any harm.

It is a pity that during the interview, he did not simply ask to be excused from answering that particular question concerning the budget for the just-ended African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Equatorial Guinea - by saying that out of respect for Parliament, to which he was actually scheduled to present the details of the budget for Ghana's preparation and participation in the African Cup of Nation's in Equatorial Guinea, shortly, he would have to refrain from answering the question asked by the host of the programme.


Apparently the new national organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Hon. Kofi Adams, who is also the member of Parliament for Buem, in the Volta Region, thinks that critics of the government should be constructive in their criticisms - by offering alternative solutions to the challenges confronting our nation, when necessary. Fair enough.

However, the question is: will those who rule us make use of such alternative solutions when offered by their critics?

Since he said so in response to the views of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) on the power crisis, here is an alternative power solution for Mr. Adams & Co - whose hard-of-hearing party some of us have now given up on, alas: Let them go to France to see the world's biggest tidal power plant, the 240 MW La Rance barrage dam power plant.

It produces power at the astonishing cost of 1.8 cents per kWh, as compared to 2.5 cents per kWh for nuclear power in France. The estuary of the Volta at Ada, could be one of a number of possible sites, for such a plant in Ghana.

Kofi Adams & Co ought to also get the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Bui Power Authority (BPA) to get the U.S. hydrokenetic power company, Ocean Renewable Power Company, to show them its TidGen turbine generator unit. It could be an alternative solution for the global-climate-change-induced problem of low dam water levels resulting from changed weather patterns, which now bedevil Ghana's hydro power plants - and provide power to communities along our major rivers.

Finally (and he knows why I say this), it is still not too late for the Hon. Kofi Adams to encourage the founder of the 31st December Women's Movement, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, to get her movement to partner the U.S. headquartered NGO, Solar Sisters, in Ghana.

Can he imagine how many of those sturdy solar lanterns financially-challenged women in Ghana could sell for a profit -  and help thousands of households in Ghana to cope better with the power outages in the process? Naturally, one assumes that Mrs. Rawlings and the movement do actually care about the plight of poor and disadvantaged women - in which case, this could be a perfect poverty-alleviation project, to revive the 31st December Women's Movement with.

He could also tell his party colleague and fellow parliamentarian, the Hon. Fifi Kwetey, who is in charge of the ministry of food and agriculture, to take a look at the aquaponics project initiated by the Agricultural University of Bangladesh, in that country. If it could be replicated throughout rural Ghana, it will create wealth and jobs for millions of unemployed young people - who could grow different types of vegetables for export and for sale locally, and also farm tilapia and catfish too, for sale in urban markets and to restaurants and supermarkets in urban Ghana.


I do hope that Zoomlion  will task its research and business development departments to send some of their employees to Kenya to visit EcoPost Kenya to see its plastic lumber manufacturing plant in action. Ditto to the U.S. to see Axion International's plastic lumber manufacturing plant in action. It could be a lucrative way for them to make use of recycled plastic waste - and rid Ghana of the plastic waste slowly engulfing our country. Its value-chain will spawn thousands of micro-entrepreneurs who collect and sell plastic waste countrywide.


And since the Indian conglomerate TATA is present in Ghana, why does the minister of roads and highways, not ask them to consider getting the company's subsidiary, Jusco, to partner some of Ghana's leading road construction firms to bid for road projects in Ghana - and build plastic roads here?

Plastic roads - made from mixing melted shreded plastic waste with bitumen  - last three times as long as ordinary roads, and remain pothole-free throughout their lifespan. Its loadbearing qualities are superior to that of conventional asphalted roads. It is a value-for-money way to climate-change-proof roads in Ghana. And because the plastic makes plastic roads imperviable to water, they are not be washed away by flash floods.

Hopefully, Mr. Kofi Adams will follow up with both Zoomlion and the roads and highways minister, on this important subject, too. As we say in local parlance: "Massa, over to you, Joe Lartey!"

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