On the 13th March 2020, Ghana recorded its’ first coronavirus (COVID-19) case. As a result, the government has made several efforts and initiatives to minimize the spread of the virus.
CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS
Less than a week after Ghana recorded its’ first COVID-19 case, the President of Ghana in an address to the nation issued the command that all schools should be closed with effect from 16th March 2020, till further notice. The President further went on to say that, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication, have been tasked to roll out distance learning programmes.
However, he said the final year Junior High and Senior High School students should continue to stay behind and prepare for their final examinations while practising the safety protocols. But after a week, there were also instructed to go home for safety and health reasons. This move according to the health professionals, was a very smart move by the President.
SUSPENSION OF ALL PUBLIC GATHERINGS
During the second address to the nation, the President of Ghana also declared that all social gatherings i.e. conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, sporting events and religious activities should be suspended in order to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus. This was the first time in the 21st century that public gatherings were suspended.
He further went on to explain, “Private burials are permitted, but with a limited number not exceeding 25 in attendance.” This method was a good intervention as it limited the number of persons who attend funerals in Ghana. This also prevented overcrowding at public gatherings which could have increased the number of COVID-19 cases. This made Ghana one of the very first countries in the world to suspend public meetings.
IMPOSITION OF PARTIAL LOCKDOWN ON SELECTED AREAS
As the number of cases in Ghana was increasing, the health professionals spotted that the virus was increasing in number in the Accra, Kasoa and the Greater Kumasi areas. As a result, the President on Saturday 28th March 2020 announced there would be restrictions on movement in these areas.
This lockdown went for three weeks after which the President officially lifted the lockdown. According to the President, during the lockdown, there was enhanced contact tracing to trace people who had come in contact with persons infected and after consultation with health officials, decided that it was safe to lift the lockdown. Initially, the citizens disagreed with the President’s decision, but after some time, they all embraced his decision.
FREE ELECTRICITY AND WATER FOR THREE MONTHS
“We’ve decided on further measures of mitigation for all Ghanaians for the next three months, i.e. April, May and June, Government will fully absorb electricity for the poorest of the poor, i.e. for all consumers. That is free electricity for persons who consume from 0-50 kilowatt/hours a month for this period.”
These were the words of H.E Nana Akufo-Addo in his address to the nation on Thursday 9th April 2020. Also, he said there will also be the absorption of 50% of the electricity bills for consumers who consume more than 50 kilowatt/hour using March 2020 bill as the benchmark. According to the Minister of Energy, John Peter Amewu, the cost of this project was $181 million.
The President also stated that all GWCL customers will be billed on estimated consumption, based on the average use from January to March. In other communities, the government provided free water for the residents.
Whiles the government was putting good measures in place, there were also some sectors the government failed and below are some of the areas.
LIFTING OF THE RESTRICTION ON MOVEMENTS
Ghana was the first African country to lift the lockdown amidst the increasing number of cases at a time where Zimbabwe and Nigeria were extending theirs. The lockdown lasted for three weeks. According to members of the opposition NDC, the decision to lift the lockdown was not backed by science but rather it was a decision to make way for the EC to proceed with the voters’ registration exercise.
With just ten days after the lifting of the lockdown, the number of cases increased to almost 2,000, i.e. 24% increase in less than two weeks. Several citizens proposed the re-imposition of the lockdown, but nothing happened.
NO ACCOUNTABILITY FROM THE NATIONAL COVID-19 TRUST FUND
During the lockdown, the government launched the National COVID-19 Trust Fund which was chaired by the former Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo. The main aim of the trust fund was to receive contributions and donations from the public to assist in the welfare of the needy and the vulnerable. The trust fund received donations from many companies in Ghana, including the various embassies in Ghana.
During the lockdown, the government provided food for the poor and needy in the country for only three weeks, and after the lockdown stopped providing for them. Since the lockdown was lifted until now, there hasn’t been any official statement from the board of trustees. This is poor accountability on the part of the board of trustees of the trust fund. The big question we all keep asking is, WHERE IS THE MONEY?
INCREASE IN THE PRICE OF FUEL
In this pandemic that many countries have provided stimulus and relief packages for their residents, some of them have also reduced the price of fuel, but that is not the case in Ghana. The cost of fuel has increased despite the COVID-19 economic hardship.
The then NPP Presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo claimed he had the capacity to reduce fuel prices but has continually raised the prices of fuel since he assumed office in January 2017. The Minister of Transport announced that all commercial vehicles should reduce the number of passengers in order to ensure safety while onboard.
The driver unions accepted this initiative, but a few weeks after, the price of fuel was increased. This left drivers with no choice than to increase transport fares. This shows how unsympathetic the government is, considering the state of the economy and the world at large.
INCREMENT IN ELECTRICITY TAXES
Despite subsidising the cost of electricity for Ghanaians by absorbing 50%, the government is strategically making Ghanaians repay for what they consumed. 18% taxes have been imposed on electricity usage. The decision was taken at a time many people and businesses are struggling to keep going due to the coronavirus pandemic.
VOTERS REGISTRATION EXERCISE
The president received applause from prominent people internationally after he said in one of his address that he knows how to bring the economy back but does not know how to bring back the dead. Contrary to his statement, he has allowed the Voters Registration exercise to go on despite the rise in numbers of coronavirus cases in Ghana.
The President went into isolation after one of the people in his circles tested positive for the coronavirus but keeps on urging Ghanaians to go out and register for the voter ID.
Comparing the good initiatives the government took and the sectors they failed during this COVID-19 fight, they’ve excreted the faeces of Lizard (black and white) and Ghanaians may penalise them? Or will they be rewarded for the good they did?