I have to have a word with the Head of Marketing at the Multimedia Group.
How he and his team are able to come up with such thought-provoking themes for the Ecobank-JoyNews Habitat Fair year in year out, is too good for my liking.
I need to have a feel of the behind the scenes discussion that engenders the relatable themes. Last year it was, “Home ownership: To build or to buy? This year, "Home Ownership: Where you live matters".
And the advertisement that announced the launch of this year's fair is very innovative. It smacks of intense brainstorming- Where do you live? Where do you live? Where do you live? Male and female voices filled the airwaves on Joy FM and JoyNews.
The attention-grabbing piece of creativity forced me to pay heed to the message the advertiser had. Then the answers followed- I live at Kasoa, I live at Dawhenya, I live at Nungua. Next was the message, the call to action and theme. Excellent! Was my intuitive remark.
And the theme-music? “Edan ntese adaka”- ‘A house is not like a box’ by musician Nana Addo. Very apt.
Indeed, if a house were to be like a box, we will all carry ours wherever we go. And to the best of locations, where all the utilities run efficiently, tarred roads and well-lit.
If that were the case, tenants in Accra who own, or whose relations own houses elsewhere would have transported their houses here. By so doing, they would avoid all the rent challenges they have to go through each year or two depending on the tenancy agreement.
The Ecobank-JoyNews Habitat Fair
The Habitat Fair was introduced by the JoyNews brand to address the enormous housing deficit in the country, particularly in Accra.
It is sponsored by Ecobank, the Pan-African bank and powered by Planned City Extension Project.
The background to this initiative is the fact that Data from government indicates that there is a 1.2 million housing deficit in the country. This means thousands of houses are needed each year to be able to bridge this gap.
To ensure that adequate opportunity is given to prospective homeowners in terms of what avenues are available for home ownership, a series of mini-clinics are held to herald the main Fair, each year.
This year, the two pre-fair exhibitions dubbed: Mini-clinics took place at the Achimota Retail Centre from 22nd-24th July, 2022 and West Hills Mall from 5th-7th August 2022.
The main Fair will be held at the Accra International Conference Centre from 24th to 28th August, 2022.
The Fair provides different housing opportunities to people. It assists patrons and prospective home owners in making better decisions about where they could build their houses in order to live peacefully.
These days, many a Ghanaian prefers to live in a gated community due to the prestige that comes with it.
I was therefore shocked to the marrow when I visited one of such communities at Kuntunse to see deplorable roads in and around the gated community. Refuse-filled bins were found at almost every gate, indicating a lapse in the collection routine.
As for erratic power supply, alias ‘Dumsor’, it is everywhere in Ghana I guess. Especially, if you live in the Greater Accra Region.
There are few beautiful gated-communities like Trassaco though. Even here, the road that leads you there leaves much to be desired. Another beautiful one is Elegant Homes.
At the launch of the fair, the Executive Director, Dorothy Efua Kwashie, touted how homely theirs is.
“When you walk into our gated estate, the ambience, the serenity and the cozy environment are things one would desire. We also offer tailor-made services. We sit with our clients and let them tell us exactly what they want.
“With housing, you can upgrade but you can never change the location and so when you are choosing a property, you want to make sure you want the best,” she said.
On his part, the Sales Manager of Superlock Technologies, Ebenezer Bediako, explained the need for tighter security at home.
“We spend so much money to put up the structure [so] you need a security door – Superlock security door, the ones that 90% of the banks in Ghana are buying, which have seven to eight locking bolts with self-destructive mechanisms.
“For basic security apparatus in the home, you need burglar proofs also,” he added.
For his part, General Manager, Sales and Marketing at the Multimedia Group Limited, Mr. Max Fugar, encouraged patrons to expect more from this year's edition of the Fair.
“We have the themed seminars that will educate people and also give people the opportunity to ask questions as to where they want to live and what factors should influence them in choosing the place they want to live.”
Worth patronizing, won’t you say?
Where I live?
I live at New Bortianor. Up the hills, behind the West Hills Mall.
Depending on who we are directing to the place, we say it is called West Hills. Just like residents of Baatsonaa call the place Spintex and Bawaleshie is referred to as East Legon, and part of Haatso is West Lands, according to inhabitants.
I have ever mentioned the struggles we go through with traffic to and from work here. A journey of 35 minutes to the Central Business District on Sundays takes at least 2 hours during Monday to Friday. A total of at least, four hours in traffic to and from work.
It is such a stressful undertaking. You get to the office already exhausted. Upon leaving the office you have to brace yourself for a possible nap behind the wheel in traffic- the soul is willing to get home awake and safe, but the body is weak.
At home, you have to look for water like a needle in a hay stack to freshen up. If you don't have a borehole then you have to pray that there is a neighbour who sells water. As for drinking water, thanks to pure and bottled water, we are able to grab some on the way home. We don’t have any billing ‘wahala’ with the Ghana Water Company.
Electricity supply could be better, but we make do with what we get. Mobile telephone connectivity too. Hello!, Hello!, Hello! A caller's struggle with network challenges is a common spectacle.
As for roads, hmm! Our car tyres wrestle with the mini rocks that pave roads in New Bortianor.
At the risk of sounding blasphemous, in terms of security, God is our barb wire, ninja wire, security door and alarm padlock. A Police patrol team sometimes mounts a barrier on the main broadcasting road or the New Bortianor ‘highway’. That's all we get. No permanent Police Station unless you go to SCC or Kasoa.
From the goings on, street light installation in our vicinity is ‘light years away’. Pursuant to the trite knowledge that thieves don’t like operating in the dark, most of us have created our own street lights. We buy the bulbs, connect them to the national grid and hang them on the electricity poles.
Ghanaians are known for our spirit of contentment. I guess it is due to our upbringing- Be thankful for whatever you have, half a loaf is better than none, remember someone wishes to be like you. Those are the words of my mother. I bet your mum has been drumming similar virtues into your ears. It is good.
Personally, besides my mother’s admonitions, singer Kofi Kinaata’s song, ‘Susu Ka” – be measured in your complaints, has really made an impact on me. The central theme of the song is an advice against incessant moaning, because no matter how bad your situation is, you are better off than somebody. Here is my favourite part of the banger.
“Yeah, your mates are making money
Building mansions, your mates are getting married
Wo mate bi w'abo dam, ekor bi w'ewu (One of them is mad and the other is dead)
M'ewiarber yi a being buried (And he is being buried this afternoon)
Nyimpa di s3s3bi k hw3 37 (Go and see what is happening at 37)
Sesie obi hy3 mortuary ah (By now, someone is in the mortuary).
And the part that relates to the theme of the Ecobank-JoyNews Habitat Fair:
“Hw3 wo fie wɔr dɛn koraaa mpo a
Obi ne fie wɔ wo di ekyir (no matter how far your house is located, there are other houses beyond yours).”
So if I live at New Bortianor and I am complaining, what about those who live in Kasoa and have to spend at least one hour in traffic before traversing my location, en route to Accra on a daily basis?
I am undoubtedly better off than them.
It’s time to go
However, such disposition makes us allow our leaders to take us for granted.
The Municipal, Metropolitan and District Assemblies collect property rates, we pay street lighting levy, water levy, yet we don’t benefit from such payments. Where I live, small rainfall and you are cut-off from your house.
In the ten years that I have lived at this abode, no assembly official has ever visited the community to ascertain our challenges and how they can help.
As mentioned earlier, our main source of water is borehole. But if you don’t have the GHC10,000 or so that is required to construct one, then you have to be at the mercy of your neighbours who do.
Why the Ghana Water Company has not found the need to scout such areas, dig boreholes and supply to all homes at a fee still baffles me. I guess they will cite lack of logistics. But if your source of supply of water- river bodies, is being polluted by ‘galamsers’, should you not look for alternatives?
I have had cause to ask why on earth there is no overhead railway line between Kasoa and the Central Business District of Accra? Tema-Accra too. The volume of vehicular and human traffic on these routes, especially in the morning and evening rush-hours is akin to what I experienced on the train between Saratoga Avenue and Manhattan during my short stay in Brooklyn, New York two decades ago.
If the same challenge of lack of logistics will be adduced, what about Public -Private Partnership-Build Operate and transfer?
But my mum and Kofi Kinaata say – I am better off than my counterparts in Kasoa, Oyarifa, Amasaman, Kuntunse, Amrahia, Ogbojo, Amomole, Pokoase, Nsawam, Medie, ashiee, Obeyeyie etc, so I have kept quiet.
But like Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, I am not on autopilot, so once a while I will skid- complain when I have to.
Indeed, where you live matters. So for those of you who are yet to make that choice, make a date at the main Ecobank-Joy-News Habitat Fair at the Accra International Conference Centre from 24th to 28th August, 2022. From 8:00am to 7:00pm daily.
Everything housing will be made available to you just like a one stop shop.
As for me, if a house were to be like a box, I would have relocated it back to Bubuashie, near my father’s house. From there, wherever you want to go, in no time, you are there- Stress-less, less fuel-consuming shuttling in the city of Accra, guaranteed!
Do svidaniya- That’s goodbye in Russian
Let God lead! Follow Him directly, not through any human.
The writer works at Myjoyonline.com. He is also an author of two books whose contents share knowledge on how anyone desirous of writing like him can do so. Eric can be reached via email email@example.com. The two books cost GHC80.00.
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