Over 40% of votes cast during the first edition of the Joy Ballot Box held in Hohoe in the Volta Region was in connection with the poor state of the Eastern Corridor roads.
According to the electorates, they will vote against the government if the road, which runs through the Hohoe municipality and adjoining constituencies, is not fixed before election 2020.
“If he (President Akufo-Addo) comes to do something small about the road, he will get a lot of votes here,” a taxi driver who plies Hohoe-Gwolokwati stretch told JoyNews.
Responding to the concerns during the discussion, MP for Afadzato South, Angela Oforiwaa Alorwu-Tay admitted that the Eastern Corridor road is a big issue but blamed the NPP for failing to continue the work the Mahama-led administration started.
“Governance is about continuity. When I start something and you come, you continue. But we were told that there was going to be an audit on the road and just after that the contractor will come back.”
“So, we were of high hopes that the contractor will back as soon as possible. We asked the Minister of Roads and he kept telling us, it will be done, it will be done,” she complained.
However, her opponent, NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the area, Ernest Quist, also present for the discussion, insisted that President Akufo-Addo since assumption of office in 2017, has sustained work on that stretch. According to him, it is almost “90% complete now.”
He referred to the Jasikan route as proof adding that “get to Jasikan and see, are we saying work is not ongoing there?”
Unhappy with the back and forth, electorates took over the microphones to register their displeasure with the manner in which leaders were toying with their welfare.
One of them noted, “we want politicians to know that we are all Ghanaians, so when they come to power they should do the right thing at the right time.”
Another electorate who took the microphone also stated that he had a terrible experience using the road as a student in 2015.
He claimed the government at the time “brought machines and contractors onto the road and scattered them all over the districts along the Eastern Corridor Road. Politicians have taken us for granted in the Volta region.”
He said that the people have decided to let their thumbs do the talking in December when elections begin.
The electorates raised other issues including unemployment and the need for development in the area.
Some persons with disability demanded their leaders implement policies enabling automatic employment of members and the integration of sign language into every public and private service such as hospitals, banks, and police stations among others.
President of the Volta Regional Federation of Persons with Disability, Elolo Agyei, questioned the taxation of the Disability Common Fund.
According to him, it is supposed to be a token for poverty alleviation among members just like the Livelihood Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation Programme (LEAP).
“LEAP is not being taxed, but the disability common fund is being taxed; what would they do to reverse the trend when they are elected?’’ Mr Agyei asked.
Also, women represented by the Queen mothers of the land and market women demanded peace and security for their children and development of their market centers.
The Hohoe Market Queen, popularly called Sister Becky, demanded from the Municipal chief Executive the real funders behind the new market construction.
The MCE, Teddy Ofori, explained that the World Bank funded the Assembly to enable it to undertake the new market construction and for that, it is the Assembly that is in charge.
The youth also took turns to quiz their leaders on employment, youth and ICT development which they stated are among the things that will influence their choice of candidates in this year’s general election.
The NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Hohoe Professor Margaret Kweku made a strong commitments assuring the electorates of being the right candidates to bring them their desired development.
She alluded to various projects she put in place during her time as the then Municipal Chief Executive of Hohoe including the rehabilitation of key roads in the municipality, market structures and construction of the first mechanized borehole for the provision of potable water for residents of Hohoe.
She believes she is the best candidate as she is capable of elevating the Hohoe Municipality to the global level.
The District Chief Executive of the Afadzato South Constituency who is the NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the area, Mr. James Etornam Flolu also said that job creation and youth development is a measure that will be used to stop the rural-urban migration by masses of the youth in search of greener pastures.
According to him, if voted into parliament, he will ensure that existing opportunities and tourist facilities in the constituency will be developed and tapped for the benefit of the youth.
The Ballot Box Programme, held on Saturday, June 11, at Hohoe, was aimed at providing a common platform for the electorates and their political representatives to meet and discuss issues of concern to them as election approaches.
It also aimed at promoting issues based election 2020 with special focus on the vulnerable.
Election Headquarters through its Joy and Adom brands hopes to draw these persons actively into the electioneering so their voices could also be heard and their needs factored into the manifestoes of the various political parties.
Ten regions will benefit from this year’s Ballot Box programme in selected communities across the country.
The Joy Ballot Box is supported by the Star Ghana Foundation with other funding support from development partners such as the UKAid, European Union, and DFID.