2015 in review

The curtain goes down on 2015 at midnight today.

The year will go down in history as one of the most dramatic years in Ghana’s history.
The year was filled with scandals, energy crisis, disasters, political party crisis, ‘tsunami’ in party primaries and infrastructure development for a country struggling to reduce its budget deficit and development gap.

The year began with a spillover of the scandals of 2014. First, Ruby Adu-Gyamfi a Ghanaian-Austrian, cocaine baroness, popularly known as Nayele Ametefe was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, on January 7, by a United Kingdom court after her arrest at the Heathrow Airport on November 14, 2014. She was reported to have carried 12kilogrammes of cocaine through the VIP lounge of the Kotoka International Airport; an act that stirred public debate in Ghana.
Then came a police invitation to HIV/AIDS ambassador, Ms Joyce Dzidzor Mensah, who revealed late in 2014 that she has never been infected with the virus, despite parading as a carrier for several years. That scandal died naturally.
Popular broadcaster, Kwasi Kyei Darkwa, who was alleged to have raped a 19-year old girl was arrested at the African Regency Hotel on Saturday, December 27, 2014, following the alleged rape which reportedly took place in the washroom of the hotel. The state decided to prosecute the case even when the victim decided not to pursue it. In the end, the 49-year old was freed on April 23 after the state decided to drop the charges.
Before the dust settled on that the Office of the Chief Justice  set up a five-member committee to investigate complaints of serious misconduct and breaches of the law against the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ms Lauretta Vivian Lamptey after a prima facie case was established against her.

Scandals
DVLA miraculous figures
The DVLA came under public scrutiny this year.  First with reports that its machines had broken down, creating a backlog of more 25,000 drivers’ licences to be printed. But the shocker was a$3.6 million contract between the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and Foto-X/Digimarc Ltd, which mysteriously became $9.9 million.
The contract, which was for the design, installation, maintenance and servicing of the system for the personalisation and production of driver’s licence (temporary and full), material supply, for a period of six years; was on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.
 Bus branding saga
As if that controversy was not enough for the Transport Ministry, the branding of 116 Metro Mass Transit (MMT) with the images of Ghana’s democratically elected presidents at GHC 3.6 million cost the sector Minister her job. She resigned on December 23, even before the Chief of Staff made public the content of a report from the Attorney General on the deal.
A press statement signed by the Minister’s Personal Assistant, Egypt Kobla Kudoto explained that she was resigning as the person with oversight responsibility for the activities of the Metro Mass Transit (MMT).
Police recruitment scandal
2015 was a year in which the police and the judiciary got themselves in the world of murky scandals.
The Ghana Police service was hit by a massive recruitment scam in March that had hundreds of prospective police officers reported to various centres across the country ready to train only to be arrested or turned away. Subsequently, the Police administration initiated investigations into the matter, while its preliminary findings implicated the Director Human Resources and Administration of the service, DCOP Patrick E. Timbillah. He denied the charges. Seven people were arrested in the case. The police are yet to release the report of their Special Investigative Taskforce that was set up to look into the matter.
Judicial scandal
In September, six months after the police scandal, the judicial scandal, easily wiped out the police moment of shame from the court of public opinion and shook the nation through the work of investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
In what is described as the country’s biggest corruption scandal, Anas’s private investigative company, Tiger Eye P I, conducted a two-year investigation, which produced a 500-hour video that captured the 34 judges, magistrate and others allegedly engaging in bribery and extortion.
The Judicial Council instituted investigations into the matter and on December 7, the Council removed twenty judges of the lower court from office following their indictment in the judicial corruption saga.
While some of the High Court judges were set free because of insufficient evidence against them, seven are still on suspension. One of the High Court judges implicated in the video, Paul Uuter Dery, proved to be the chief litigant who filed almost 10 suits to stop the public viewing as well as the disciplinary process fruitlessly.
AMERI Controversy
Another saga that took the nation by storm was the Africa Middle East Resources Investment (AMERI) controversy over the cost of a contract between the Power Ministry and the Dubai-based company to provide a power plant for the country.
A Norwegian newspaper broke the story, claiming Ghana had been ripped off as the actual cost of the turbines was $220million and that the country had paid $290 million more for the same turbines.
The AMERI contract obliges Ghana to pay $510 million for 10 gas turbines over the next five years.
The Power Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor dismissed the allegations, insisting that figures being quoted by the Norwegian newspaper was without the cost of civil works and other auxiliary works.
Rot at MASLOC
In February, a GH¢1,055,582 fraud was uncovered at the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC). An acting Director of Operations of the scheme, Ken Kwaku Boadi Asare, was alleged to have forged 102 non-existing business associations to advance GH¢1,055,582 to two financial institutions. He is currently under investigations by Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) with nine others.
Woyome freed
Businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome on March 12 walked out of the High Court a free man after the court had held that the state had failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, in the case in which he was picked up on February 3, 2012 and later charged with two counts of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state after an interim report from the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) had implicated him for wrongdoing in the receipt of GHc 51million in judgement debt.
Disasters
The year recorded its share of the annual fires in markets and government facilities but biggest of the fires was on January 13, when fire destroyed the Central Medical Stores in Tema, resulting in losses estimated at GH₵237million worth of essential medicines and equipment, a development that massively challenged healthcare delivery in the country.
The Bureau of National Investigations and the Ghana National Fire Service opened investigations into a suspected case of arson and submitted the reports to the government which is yet to make it public.
Almost a year later, the place is being cleared to construct a modern facility to cost GHC8 million to replace the burnt structure which was not insured.
But  the biggest disaster of the year was on the June 3 torrential rain caused floods that brought Accra to its knees, with  loss of lives and destruction of properties, after an explosion occurred at the Goil fuel station at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle during the flooding.
 At least 150 fatalities were reported in the aftermath of the floods, a disaster that has been described as the worst in the country’s history after the May 9, 2001 Accra Sports Stadium disaster. There was three days of national mourning for the victims.
 In the aftermath, several slums said to be on waterways, including the notorious Sodom and Gomorra was pulled down.
 Angry victims of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly demolition exercise staged a five-hour chaotic demonstration at the State House and Agbogbloshie.
Energy crisis
Ghanaian lexicon in the year 2015 will probably be ‘dumsor’—the erratic power supply that has hit the country since August 2012.
The crisis became so severe that the country had to endure 12 hours with power on and 24 hours off with businesses laying off thousands of people.
Many also died through generator fumes and fires triggered by the erratic power supplies. The most tragic one occurred on February 5 when two alleged lovers died in their single room in Gbegbeyise in Accra after they were asphyxiated by fumes from a generator.
Like many issues in Ghana, the energy crisis was dressed in party colours with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) insisting that the issue was more financial than technical as the government claimed.
The Power Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor, who promised to end the crisis or resign on December 31, made a u-turn when he met Parliament Committee on Government Assurances, asking for extra two weeks to end the prolonged crisis.
Effort to end crisis
To demonstrate the seriousness he attached to the energy crisis, the President reconstituted cabinet, and replaced the newly created Power Ministry with the Ministry of Water, Works and Housing.
After several missed deadline for the arrival of the Karpower barges, the ship finally arrived on the shores of Ghana on November 28.
Tariff increases
While Ghanaians brood over the energy crisis, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) stirred public anger when it announced an upwards review of electricity and water tariffs, with hikes of 59.2 per cent for electricity and 67.2 per cent for water for domestic consumers across board on December 7.
Boiling political front
Away from the politics of tariff increment, 2015 being the penultimate year to Ghana’s next elections, saw a buzz of electoral activities.
The year was very interesting politically. It was characterised by intrigues and acrimony. There was tension, especially within the NPP and many times, it rose to a crescendo that many thought the tiny thread that bound the party together would break.
Suspensions spree
The turf war in the NPP intensified but at a cost of two lives—on May 20, the Upper East Regional Chairman of the party, Adams Mahama, died in the hospital following an acid attack near his house in the night. His death triggered a wave of demonstrations against the party’s Chairman, Mr Paul Afoko and he was subsequently suspended indefinitely on October 23, following a petition of the party’s Disciplinary Committee by some aggrieved party members.
The General Secretary of the NPP, Mr Kwabena Agyepong was suspended indefinitely on December 10 2015, together with the party’s Second Vice Chairman, Sammy Crabbe for misconduct.
The controversy that dogged the decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the Disciplinary Committee of the NPP to suspend its National Chairman led to a clash between pro-Afoko and pro-Akufo-Addo supporters at Asawase on November 5, which resulted in the stabbing to death of a 37-year-old member of the party, Abubakari Saddick.
Fallen big wigs
The NPP and the NDC went to primaries to elect parliamentary candidates for the 2016 elections.
On June 13, delegates of the NPP shocked a number of incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) at the party’s parliamentary primaries held in 245 constituencies.
Out Afari- Djan, in Charlotte Osei
The year also witnessed the exit of the avatar of Ghana’s election organising body—Dr Kodwo Afari-Djan , who retired in June, after 22 years as the Chairman of the Electoral Commission.  He chaired the conduct of presidential and parliamentary elections in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.
He was replaced by Mrs Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei, who at age 46, could be in charge of Ghana’s electoral administration body for the next 24 years or so, after her transition as the Chairperson of the National Commission of Civic Education (NCCE).
The economy
Outside, the political circle, the cedi started the year sliding against the major trading currencies, it obtained some level of stability after the Bank of Ghana put in some measures including pumping $20 million into the local economy to limit the depreciation of the cedi.
 The government also went to the Eurobond market at least twice to borrow as part of measures to prevent escalating interests.
After 15 years of working with destination inspection companies (DICs), Ghana on September 1 dispensed with their services, handing over the task to the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for the take off of the national single window system.
The decision was met with both applause and criticism in equal measure. While more than 500 employees of the DICs lost their jobs, the move is seen as an opportunity to save the country millions of cedis that went into the coffers of the DICs as compensation for their technical support.
Sports
Ghana’s quest for a fifth trophy in the African Nations Cup ended in pain and agony when the Black Stars lost to the Elephants of Cote d’ivoire in a pulsating 9-8 penalty in the finals of CAN 2015 in Equatorial Guinea on February 8. Ironically, the Ivoirians beat Ghana on penalties when the last won the cup in 1992.
The Black Queens made up for the Black Stars’ loss when they won gold at the 2015 All Africa Games in Congo on September 18.

Development Projects
Fufulso-Sawla road
The government fulfilled a major promise to the people of the Northern Region this year when President Mahama inaugurated the reconstructed Fufulso-Sawla road. This road has been in almost all budget statements since 1992.
The 147.5 kilometre double-sealed surfaced road project, which provides the shortest direct link between Tamale and Wa, two of Ghana's main economic centres in the northern part of the country, took about three years to complete at a cost of $166 million.
Adomi Bridge
Ghana’s longest bridge – the Adomi Bridge was reopened to traffic on December 19, after 22 months of rehabilitation works. The Adomi Bridge, which connects Atimpoku in the Eastern Region and Juapong in the Volta Region, is the shortest link between the two regions.
Financed with a 12.9 million euro facility from the Bank of Austria, the rehabilitation works, the first in the history of the 58-year-old infrastructure, included the provision of a new bridge deck, hanger cables and lighting.
Atuabo Gas
After four years of preparatory and construction work on the onshore gas processing plant, Ghana officially joined the comity of gas processing countries when President Mahama inaugurated the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant operated by the Ghana National Gas Company (Ghana Gas) on September 16.
The $1-billion government of Ghana project was started in July 2011, together with a natural gas export station to be constructed at Domuli in the Jomoro District in the Western Region, collectively referred to as the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development Project.
For most Ghanaians, it was supposed to be the panacea for the energy crisis but that was not to be.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Spiritual healers, men of God take over billboards, Monday, September 17, 2012, pg 32

Need an Auto Loan? Monday, April 2, 2012, pg 20

Gamblers Win Lotto - Using Landmark Dates Of Late President (page 3)