“If you have roads, you have wealth.” Chinese Minister of Transport, Mr. Weng Mengyong
This is a statement that has to be examined to reveal its truth or otherwise. It is a statement pregnant with many babies but on the face of it may appear as a fable. It is however important to interrogate how roads can bring wealth.
Many investments in infrastructure are built on the belief that they will lead to poverty reduction and income generation. This has entailed massive aid-financed projects in roads within the country. There is no doubt that various Governments have done a great deal of work in the road sector, yet, there is still more to be done. Road infrastructure is one of the sectors of the economy that has contributed tremendously to poverty reduction in this country.
In cities like Accra and Kumasi, workers are usually stressed in the long winding hours of vehicular traffic one has to endure before and after working hours which leads to fatigue and a decrease in productivity.
Farmers have struggled with low income and post-harvest losses due to the fact that most of their produce go bad before they reach market centers. This has contributed to the high cost of living.
Economic activities of transporting and hauling raw materials from the hinterlands to major cities or to the harbour for export has been a major challenge for drivers due to the deplorable nature of roads. This increases the cost of doing business.
A reliable and affordable road transport system forms part of the social safety net, enabling trade and employment opportunities in both urban and rural communities since it facilitates the movement of goods and services in all sectors of the economy including: tourism, education, health care and agriculture among others. It is indeed a fact that road infrastructure plays a key role in the socioeconomic development of Ghana
An effective and efficient road infrastructure will reduce cost and comparative distance between trading partners; thereby increasing trade effectiveness and maximizing returns on existing industrial investment and production. It will as well make Ghanaian products competitive on the world market. For our country to achieve its full potential, there is the need for an improved road transportation system through an effective and well integrated road network system.
Over the years, the efforts of government, has to some extent bridged the development gap between the rural and urban communities; a number of roads are being constructed across the country to enhance the economic activities of the citizenry but there is still more work to be done.
Roads in Ghana are the population’s main means of transportation: to work, hospital, school, farm, factory etc. and as such, government should not relent on its efforts to fix all road network within the country because, an improved road infrastructure will reduce time on journey which will in turn improve productivity and wealth creation.
The few good roads in Ghana are very valuable assets. It has provided users with more mobility and given government revenue through tax due to the tremendous increase of vehicle ownership and the flourishing car ownership industry; this was confirmed by a Daily Graphic publication August 2, 2013 edition revealing an increase in car registration from 41,328 in 2012 to 49,537 in January to April 2013.
It is acknowledged that the development of the road sector has contributed to an increase in road transport related profession such as insurance and logistics. Indicating a significant increase in employment level of the sector, insurance for car accidents is becoming more necessary as security for any unexpected calamity. It is indeed true that a country that has a well developed road infrastructure has wealth.
By Abraham Lartey