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Fri, Aug

The New Volta-Oti Regions - Which Way Do We Go?

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Some have argued that the distance from certain parts of Volta region to the capital Ho makes the process of administration burdensome for some areas of Volta than others. What do the numbers say?
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A lot has been raging recently about ongoing processes to split the Volta region into Oti region and Volta region. The arguments in some circles has been – “the people themselves asked for a split” But I have rebuffed that by saying “how about the remaining people in the Volta saying No?” Several reasons have been given – I too am trying to understand them more critically. Come along on the journey…..

IS THE LENGTH OF VOLTA AN ADMINISTRATIVE WAHALA?

Some have argued that the distance from certain parts of Volta region to the capital Ho makes the process of administration burdensome for some areas of Volta than others. What do the numbers say?

Let’s take a look at the Road distance from Ho, the capital of the Volta Region to 6 of its furthest points by road. Keta, Adome, Denu, Domanko, Dambai and Burai. The overall average is 164Km from the capital Ho. NOW, Let’s compare that with the 4 regions of similar land size as Volta region, measuring the distance from their regional capitals to 6 spatial extremes of each region – Western, Eastern, Upper West and Ashanti. The average for Western Region is 228Km; Average for Eastern Region = 140Km; the average for Upper East = 109Km; and average for Ashanti = 119Km.

So, is it the DISTANCE of the regional capital from the furthest extremes? In my view, NO – The real problem as one will observe from the Western and Volta regions is more likely – the location, number and coordination of the roads.

IS IT POPULATION PRESSURE?

Is the argument about how overcrowded the Volta region is and therefore the split is intended to ease the population? No it cannot be for these reasons:

(1) Of the 10 regions in Ghana, Volta is the 4 LEAST post populated – it means there are 6 other regions more populated than Volta.

(2) Of the 10 regions in Ghana, Volta is the 4 LEAST dense – it means it is the 4th most spacious region to live in.

(3) Splitting the region could never ease population pressure because no additional land mass is being added to the Volta region.

WHAT IS LIKELY THE COST?

As reported by Graphic News on 14th November 2017, it is likely to cost GhS932Million for the referendum on the creation of new regions. As there are 4 new regions are to be created from the Volta, Brong Ahafo, Western and Northern regions, it means the cost of getting a “YES” or “NO” from the people alone in the Volta region should be anything around GhS200 Million.

That does not include the costs: (1) to establish these new regions and their new capitals, new administrative offices and systems including transfer of district and regional data and personnel, branding, etc (2) New regions will mean setting up new regional command structures for policing, health, education, etc. (3) New costs for Accra dealing with extra regions

Of course, beyond all that initial set up costs, there will be the cost of RUNNING those new regions every year. In the 2018 Budget, the cost of just the REGIONAL CORDINATING COUNCIL (i.e. the council, made up of district executives) responsible for meeting and making decisions for a region comes to at least GhS2 Million for each region. In the Volta+Oti regions, that will now be GhS 4 Million per year at least.

From the above, it’s possible to conservatively estimate that setting up the New Oti region shouldn’t cost anything below GhS 300 Million – the reasonable question is could that same amount have been spent on (i) new developments that would have improved the development standards in the Oti Area? (ii) Relocating just the capital from Ho to a more equidistant position for all districts of the Volta region or (iii) Keeping the capital at Ho and grossly improving the transportation networks within areas currently deprived?

POLITICAL GERMANDERING?

Well, I can’t say what is in the head of the government. But The Oti people have always requested for a new region way back from JJ Rawling’s time and repeated from every ruling government – why they have all said No until now, is unclear to me. On the surface, they may have done some maths – if we yield to forming Oti region – we win favour with Oti region, but may lose favour with Volta region. Which of these will have bigger voters after the split. Dicey!! Overall, creating 30+ new districts will mean political parties who wish to contest in 2020 will need to also prove visible presence in 30+ new districts – that’s literally asking all the smaller parties to go to bed and ensuring the NDC-NPP Duopoly grows more permanent. I am not saying this is what the political intention is – I am saying these are the strategic possibilities in the debate.

Unless of course there are other deeper CULTURALLY ingrained reasons that we are not seeing……. Lets NOT just get emotional until ALL the questions have been asked and answered

You are the people – what do you think? What are the Concrete pros, cons, alternatives, etc

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