The recent provisional Population and Housing Census (PHC) have justified the calls for the national capital to be moved out of Accra.
To put it in perspective, the PHC results have indicated that Greater-Accra which is the smallest region by land mass in Ghana has overtaken Ashanti region as the most populous region in Ghana for the first time since 1970. Even though the northern regions recorded higher population growth rates, Greater-Accra led the southern sector with an intercensal increase in its population by 35.8%. This has made Greater-Accra the region with the largest population density of about 1,236 persons per square kilometre as compare with 14 persons per square kilometre in the Savannah region.
The Greater-Accra region has also recorded the highest number of both residential and non-residential structures. The number of structures in Greater-Accra is said to be greater than all the structures in six other regions (North East, Savannah, Ahafo, Upper West, Oti, and Upper East) put together. Each of these regions has bigger land mass than Greater-Accra.
The PHC results also indicated that the Southern part of the country is getting congested with the number of people and structures per square kilometre of land space reduced to alarming proportions. These rising congestions especially in Accra is bringing in its wake serious challenges including but not limited to the following:
There is a huge economic cost to the state as a result of these challenges. Traffic is unbearable in Accra with some people spending over 6hours just trying to get in and out of traffic to and from work. This bad traffic situation has a huge effect on our fuel import bill, efficiency at work and health. Because people get to work already tired from several hours of traffic. They get home and have less time to rest before going back to work the next day. This has a huge toll on their health.
In addition, the floods that occur perennially results in loss of lives and properties worth millions of cedis of properties through the floods. In the last 4years, government is said to have spent over GH¢400 million on construction of some drains and dredging of some choked drains. Yet, the floods this year was marginally better than previous periods. The list of economic losses is inexhaustive.
The Census Officials have warned of impending health crises especially in Greater-Accra as a result of worsening population density in the region. Data on Covid-19 cases from March, 2020-October, 2021 showed that the two most populous regions (Accra and Kumasi) had 72.18% of all reported cases. Accra alone had 56.1% while Kumasi had 16.12% of all reported Covid-19 cases.
In the same manner in 2014/2015 cholera outbreak, out of the 28,922 cases reported, Accra alone recorded 15,034 (52%) cases with 15 out of the 16 districts of Greater-Accra affected.
In addition, the region lacks recreational parks for citizens to exercise and destress and this is bringing about rising obesity in children as well as coronary complications in adults. All these have negative effect on our human resource and health budgets.
Accra is Disaster-Prone Area
Accra is said to be an earthquake prone area. It has also become a flood prone area with the indiscriminate and indiscipline building practices. With little rains for few hours, not only most areas are flooded, but most of our highways and roads are also flooded.
With the limited land space in Accra, Greater-Accra is now encroaching on the lands of neighbouring regions, and this is creating a lot of tensions. Most of our prime residential areas are now being converted into commercial areas. In most prime areas like East Legon, Cantonments and several other areas in cosmopolitan Accra, people are putting up 4-5 storey buildings on 80X100 square meters of land with no provisions for parking lots. This has exacerbated our traffic situation in Accra with most of the roads in cosmopolitan Accra reduced to one-lane because people have parked on the roadsides as a result of lack of parking lots. It is unimaginable how the situation in Accra will look like in the next 10years.
The fast development of Greater Accra has resulted in stripping the indigenous landowners of land to manage. In recent past, some landowners clashed with the military for portions of the military lands in Accra. If care is not taken in the near future, armed groups could emerge from these landowners to forcefully seize government lands that are not occupied and create high insecurity situations for Ghana
Over the years, major developments in Ghana have been concentrated in Accra and Kumasi and Takoradi recently because of the oil discovery. This has resulted in mass exodus of people from the various regions to Accra and Kumasi bringing in its wake serious economic and social consequences. Many renowned Ghanaians have called for the relocation of the national capital to another region but to no avail.
The Census results has provided an appropriate data to back the calls for the relocation of the national capital to the middle belt in an area between Bono East, Savannah and northern regions where a huge landmass can be carved and made the national capital. However, this should be done strategically to propel Ghana’s economy.
For instance, wherever is chosen for the national capital, it has to be planned well for at least 10years before the movement can be complete. We could develop it like Dubai by planning it in a way to have a look of a modern city with proper planning of drainage, bicycle and motor lanes as well as fast lane highway which can be tolled. We could also create various enclaves like Ministerial enclave, Parliamentary enclave, the Diplomatic enclave, the automobile enclave, the fashion and cosmetic enclave among others.
The new Parliament building and the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could be relocated there. In addition, all the multinational companies such as google, twitter, the automobile companies and many others who intend to open their offices for their African operations should be directed to open their head offices in the new capital.
It is my strong believe that if the calls to move the national capital are heeded to, it could decongest Accra and engender massive economic growth in the country.
Assallamu Allaikum my fellow Ghanaians.
Mr. Habibu Adam
Office of the Presidential Advisor