One of the basics I learnt taking my real estate classes twenty years ago is the fact that buildings, like us human beings, also go through life cycles. Just as we are born and raised, cared for, pampered and turned into the productive human beings that we become, the buildings we occupy also do have life cycles that have to be catered to, to make them the productive assets that serve the purposes they are built to serve.
Visit any government office in Ghana today and witness firsthand the decay, dilapidation and filth staring you in the face. It is absolutely disgraceful and disgusting! It is as if the occupants of these buildings don’t care a hoot what happens to the structures they call their offices. And the irony of it all is that these are the people who rule our country! These are the people who actually control the purse strings of our nation, who collect our taxes and revenues, and who actually disburse them. It is interesting to note that when the government of Ghana produces its budget every year, maintenance of government-owned properties always has a budgetary allocation for each Department or Ministry. Whatever happens to that allocation year-in-year-out, only the officials at these offices know! And these are the same officials who find the money from these budgetary allocations to buy big chauffeur-driven SUVs for themselves year-in-year-out to show off
the big positions they occupy.
Back in the day, during the General Kutu Acheampong regime, I was a young student out of the School of Administration on National Service with the State Hotels Corporation, where I saw these beautiful government –owned hotels literally run to the ground. Two of such edifices are still around to remind us of our poor culture of zero-maintenance. The Ambassador Hotel in the center of Accra became a shell of itself over the years and right next door, a French company called Novotel came around to build the first foreign hotel in Ghana that became the envy of those in the hotel industry in our beloved country. The same culture of zero maintenance afflicted the Meridian Hotel in Tema, whose shell we can all see today standing tall and staring us in the face when we drive into that city.
Just pay a visit to the Ministries area in Accra and see exactly what I am talking about here. Paints peeling off buildings, windows broken and looking very dirty and dusty, structures literally falling apart and the surroundings looking very shabby. As for the toilets in government
buildings, it is better they don’t have them! So that when we go to government buildings in Ghana, we all know that they don’t exist. They only exist in the individual private offices of the same high government officials who refuse to provide decent ones for us the public who actually pay their salaries. Why have toilets that never work and never have toilet rolls?
I think the funniest experience I had lately was going to the Accra North Post Office to apply for a mailbox. You enter the inside of the Ghana Post Office area and you can see and smell the unkempt structure surrounding you. How long ago this building was ever painted, only God knows. Then you walk next door to the Vodafone office to buy units for your landline Internet connection and you are welcomed into a beautiful, clean office environment with smiling and properly dressed employees with computers and sophisticated gadgets all around them. And the people working in these Vodafone offices are all Ghanaians too; then you ask yourself, what happened to the office next door called the Ghana P&T, who have been here for the last 53 years before Vodafone arrived yesterday? What happened, people?
I was in Ho the other day, to settle a speeding violation at the circuit court. I couldn’t believe what I saw. The entire Ho court buildings that
even house the High Court are in shambles. It is a complete eyesore. I went inside the circuit court, sat down and looked up and saw the paint literally peeling off live in my face. It is disgraceful! And a judge sits in this courtroom every day, dishes out his/her rulings and sees nothing wrong with it!
Why are we doing this to our country? Don’t we have building contractors in our country that all these government offices all over this nation could employ and give these jobs to? Don’t we have real estate developers in our country who are dying to get something to do, as demand for their houses has slowed down because of the world-wide economic downturn? Are we not the same people crying over lack of jobs in our country? Don’t we know that this is how jobs are created, employing contractors and developers to repair buildings, who in turn hire lots of hands to perform those jobs? Don’t we have property management companies in Ghana who could be hired to manage and maintain government-owned buildings and keep them clean and beautiful every day? Isn’t that also another form of job creation with its palpable
multiplier economic effect? Why are we doing this to our country?
It is as if all these government officials don’t visit the Americas, Europe, Canada, Asia, and Australia to see things for themselves. All their
perennial junkets overseas on conferences don’t teach them anything about cleanliness of their offices? Even South Africa right here on our continent is doing a good job keeping their government offices clean and beautiful. No, our government officials don’t have to travel that far to learn how to keep their offices clean and beautiful. They just need to visit any banking hall or telecom company office in this country to learn how to do that. The earlier we paid attention to this poor culture of zero maintenance, the better for our country.
Indeed, I can’t wait for the criticisms and insults waiting to be hurled at me for writing this article. I am ready for them. However, before you throw your shots at me, don’t forget: I love this country too. I am just the messenger reporting exactly what is happening on the ground in our beloved country. Go ahead, take your shot!
Peter Atsu Tsikata
Real Estate Consultant
Millennium Properties Ghana Ltd
Web site: www.millenniumtoday.com