Some angry youth in the Bongo District of the Upper East region have announced their intention to block the Bongo-Balungu Road, an international course that links Ghana through the district to some West African countries.
The youth, who look set to make good their threat this Tuesday, say the impending radical action will hit the district at dawn and will spiral hours later into a street demonstration expected to see hundreds of people from ten communities marching in blazing red and fully armed with placards as they chant protest slogans along.
The planned action, led by a group calling itself the Concerned Youth of Balungu, is in protest over the tragedies (deaths and destruction) they say users of the road have continued to suffer as a result of its dreadful state.
And if the open agitation comes off as planned, the country would lose some weighty amount of cash flow from the shutdown of a road said to be the source of 85% of the district’s revenue.
Awful state of the road
The 26-kilometre road stretches through six major communities in the district to the border that joins Ghana with Burkina Faso. They include Balungu, Gorigo, Nayorigo, Sambolgo, Kansoe and Namoo.
The road, said to have been constructed in 2003, has become too eroded for cargo trucks to use. The most dangerous parts of that highway are not the eroded portions. The likelihood of danger is most extreme where several culverts can be seen hanging in shreds.
Those culverts are only waiting for a sudden collapse that will not shock many as observers are already reeling with trauma at the size of the holes under the hanging culverts.
A squat for a glimpse at the unwelcome holes found under those culverts would throw any head into a spin as the holes, rented by bad-tempered reptiles, qualify to be called bloating caves.
Some of the hollows meant for the passage of water through the culverts are blocked with branchy logs, implying poor routine checks and explaining why some areas easily get flooded when rainwater fills the rivers that pass through the district.
“The problem is shoddy construction. You can see tiny iron rods showing from the bridge they constructed over that river. The iron rods are tiny like what they use for someone’s house. Moreover, that bridge is too small for that river. All the culverts are broken,” Gregory Aselsekonge, spokesperson to the demonstrators, said.
Former assemblyman for Nayorigo, Eric Akobga, who pointed at a red shirt he was wearing as an indication of his preparedness for Tuesday’s demonstration, told Starr News Monday: “Look at heaps of sand lying there. Those heaps have been causing accidents. Eight people died not up to a year now. I am a member of the ruling party. I’m an NDC strongman. And the most painful thing is that those who have died on this road are diehard members of my party.”
DCE ‘turns deaf ears’ to distress calls
The youth had scheduled the demonstration for early July, this year, but it was later abandoned after the Assemblyman for Balungu, Dominic Akolgo, had reassured them he would get the District Chief Executive for Bongo, Alexis Ayamdor, to address their concerns.
The assemblyman, whose intervention dissuaded the agitators from staging the rally, regretted his mediation later.
“I took their concerns to the DCE and had to tell him several times that lives in the community were threatened. Meanwhile, we have been following him on this road for three years now, since 2013. I expected him to show concern but he never did. Just recently a dam, which lives depend upon at Gorigo, a nearby community, was leaking. The assemblyman for that area called and I went there immediately to show concern even though that is not my community.
“People gathered there and were angry that that the DCE was not showing any concern. I went to a corner and called the DCE to come and see it for himself. He spoke harshly to me on phone. He did not come there. After some days, the dam broke apart, all the water gone. And up to now he has not stepped there to see what happened,” Mr. Akolgo said as his eyes flamed with wrath.
DCE ‘re-triggered’ demonstration
The youth, who had ruled out the contemplated demonstration, returned with fury to the drawing board of the abandoned plans at the rear of the DCE’s alleged unconcern.
The red-band rally they had chosen to forget bounced back to the fore after the DCE purportedly chose not see the reported carnage on that international road. And the process of the revived demo became quickened Monday when a cargo truck coming from Burkina Faso accidentally flipped over and landed in a river near a crumbled culvert.
Rescuers counted over a hundred soaked bags of beans and some cereals they managed to retrieve whilst the owner of the goods, Hajia Mariama Issifu, wailed with both hands over her head as hopes of saving 96 more bags buried in the water faded out.
“Again, I called the DCE this morning. He didn’t pick my calls,” the assemblyman fumed. “Do we always have to run to the Central Government when there is a DCE in Bongo?” he asked as Samuel Atia, assistant spokesperson to the Concerned Youth of Bongo, added: “This is an ECOWAS road. We called the police this morning after the articulator fell so that angry residents don’t attack anybody perceived to have done shoddy work on the road, but it has taken them a long time to come around simply because the DCE himself, who is supposed to lead by example, is not showing any concern.”
Political parties to be banned from neglected road
Communities along the ‘neglected road’ are referred to as the “East Legon of Bongo” as four notable politicians from the district are said to have their extended family houses within them.
They include three parliamentary candidates for Bongo: Edward Bawa of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Gabriel Nsoh Agana of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and George A-engbinge Afari of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP). The fourth figure is the Upper East Regional Secretary of the NDC, Donatus Akamugre.
“Even the DCE, this is the road he always passes to Zorkor, his hometown. Majority of the assembly members are from the communities this road passes through. That is the East Legon of Bongo. And it is shameful this is how things have been,” the assemblyman added.
“We are blocking the road tomorrow (Tuesday). And we will just go and present our petition to the DCE. We will give a deadline, 13th August. If they don’t say anything by the close of the deadline, we would organise a bigger demonstration and block the road forever. And we would block all political parties from using this road because we want them alive,” the spokesperson announced.
DCE at silent war with media
When Starr News tried to get the DCE’s side of the story, he did not disappoint because as usual of him he did not answer his calls and did not reply the message sent through his mobile contact even though there was an indication he read the message.
It would be recalled that a street fight involving some NDC supporters earlier this year in Bongo saw the DCE cited for some allegations made by a group calling itself the NDC Lai-Lai Group. And some executives of the NDC in the Bongo Constituency also tangled with him early in 2016 for alleged misconduct against some prominent figures of the party including the Member of Parliament for Bongo, Albert Abongo, who is the current Upper East Regional Minister.
He snubbed media attempts to get his side of the story on those separate occasions. His rise to his current office was greeted with sweeping applause in 2013 but his popularity soon began to fall at the speed of a falling meteor when, unlike some of his colleague Municipal and District Chief Executives, he became crabby with the press.
By: Ghana/ultimatefmonline.com/106.9FM/Edward Adeti