Monday, 24 August 2009

A-k-w-a-a-b-a Accra

LASTING about 45 minutes, the flight from Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) to Kotoka International Airport (KIA) was smooth and enjoyable. However, the flight back home took more minutes, as it stretched to almost an hour.
Accra is a very busy place, streaming with tourists of all kinds. At least, that is the impression a visitor gets from KIA, which is the first point of contact with the city. Coming from Lagos, Ngeria, one cannot but be impressed by the cleanliness of the environment. The airport attendants could be seen cleaning up dirt at every given moment. The immigration officials are not left out of the race to impress and make you feel welcomed. The smart looking men and women in uniform go about their duties with caution and courtesy. At the waiting lounge is a Chinese restaurant, among others, offering different delicacies such as sandwiches, tuna and cheese, mixed salads, pancake, ice cream, Spanish omelet and scrambled eggs as well as African and other continental dishes. Adorning the walls are photographs of some of the country’s past leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, JB Danquah, Ako Adjai, Akufo Ada and Nana Offori Atta. While dancing to the music of the wind are flags of Ghana and other nations hoisted at the entrance. While commending the airport’s environment, Mr. Yaw Safo Kantanka, a 42-year-old weaver said the place serves as a catalyst for him to increase his output. He however called on the government to help them with loans. “We help to boost tourism as many foreigners come to Ghana to buy kente.” STEPPING out of the airport, there are usually cabs around to take you to your destination. A ride to the town cost between five cedis and more depending on your stop and your bargaining power. You have to be smart or you get ripped off. The traffic situation in the city is also fascinating. The lights welcome you to Accra City. On Kanda Airport Road, well-lit road signs are visible. Commuters and drivers religiously adhere to traffic lights, road signs and bus stops. The major roads like North Ridge, Kao Kudi are adorned with flowers and trees that create a sort of green belt. Street hawkers are not a common sight here, however, you will come across some on Liberia Road junction, For leisure, visitors have a lot to savour across the various tourism facilities of Ghana. In Accra, the capital city, Osu is one of such places to visit. There is the Children Park, National Theatre and Kwame Nkrumah Museum. Citizen Kofi is another one situated on the sixth street off Osu’s Oxford Street. It is owned by Dr. Kofi Amoah and was recently opened by the immediate past President, John Kuffuor.
There is also a classic eatery known as Restaurant Zango, with a sky bar overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Accra paints a picture of a perfect holiday spot with its array of beaches, hotels and resorts such as the Labadi, Kolegono Tawala Beach, Blackstone, Titanic and Teshei beaches. There is the Golden Tulip Hotel, Holiday Inn, Paloma Hotel and Airport View Hotel.
Located on the way to Tema is Lapadi Beach Resort, known formerly as La Pleasure Beach.
With its aquatic splendour, the beach has hosted international artistes such as TuFace, Tony Tetuila, VIP, Al Jarreau, CJ Lewis, Kelvin Leton and local artistes like Tick Tag.
Wednesday and Friday nights are common for hosting beach parties for tourists, who besieged the place during holidays.
Billy Jane Restaurant is a delight for local and continental dishes. There is also a gym for different body treatments.
The beach is made up of assorted bars as Savanna bar, Calipso and Ma-Ceiettes, it is also called the Nigerian Bar. It is painted in Nigeria’s colours — Green and White. It is one place to find a lot of Nigerians and also, savour home made delicacies and drinks. Wednesday night is devoted to reggae.
Tema Station is a major market that is open to all, as almost everything is available ranging from household utensils to house wears. The market is clean and attractive as it maintains a high hygiene standard.

THOUGH Accra presents a beautiful picture, many of its residents say it is not yet Eldorado. A trader, Williams Okan, said though life is cool in the city, it is very expensive as compared to other parts of the country. In his words, “people residing in the cities pay for the utilities enjoyed by those in the rural areas. This is because most of the people in the rural areas are old and retirees.”
For Mrs Justice Dei, who works in the Ministry of Justice, Accra, robbery cases have shot up in the city. While giving the government 60 per cent in the area of security, urged government to do more in this light.
She also regretted the rising level of inflation in the country. She said price of food items have gone beyond the reach of ordinary people. “It is because of Obama’s visit that there is sanity in the system before electricity was off and on like disco light”
“The prepaid metre bills for electricity are beyond the reach of the common people. Sometimes, one pays as much as10 cedis for electricity consumed in five days. That is too expensive because our salaries are meager. Some earns 80 cedis in a month. The government should try and reduce the hardship,” she said.
For Fredrick Boachie who works for the National Record Centre, Accra, life in the city is very expensive compared to Ashanti region and Kumasi.
He believes that because of its cosmopolitan nature people come to Accra from different parts of the country to hunt for job. “Here fish is very expensive and we are surrounded by the sea. Some places in Accra are filthy. The government sent the hawkers out of the street; they are now coming back in trickles. The cedis is depreciating against the dollar even after the re-denomination.”
He agreed that electricity is stable, but said a lot could still be done to improve the situation. “I give the Ghana Electricity Corporation 60 per cent, l can’t give them ‘A’ because in some areas power supply is still not regular.”
Mr. Addi Set, a journalist with Evening Tribune Newspapers, said the whole city of Accra has been polluted. “The town is full of lawlessness. The politicians do not have the political will to drive the street hawkers because they will not vote for them in the next election. Zoom Lion (a private company that was hired by the government to be cleaning the city) are not doing their best to keep the city clean. There is no difference between the past government of John Kufour and President John Evans Atta Mills.
He linked the constant electricity supply to the visit of the United States President Barack Obama. “It is because of Obama’s visit that there is sanity in the system before electricity was off and on like disco

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