Sun, May

Trivializing the National Discourse: The Matter of Courier Drones

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times
But the big elephant still staring us in the room is, was this the best we could get out of such a deal? Well, I hesitate to think so, especially judging from the figures we’re being told are the cost per drone.

I was told, when I first entered KNUST, that my hall of residence then, Unity Hall, was the center of a major national debate when it was built. At the heart of that debate was that the twin towers were a wasteful monstrosity and unwarranted, since it didn’t have full occupancy at the time.

Today, we know that argument lacked foresight. At the time that anecdote was related to me, we were four legitimate occupants of one of those rooms, which was nothing more than the size of a giant cubicle. We also had 3 “perchers”, making it a total of 7 of us; sardined in that space. Today, the lack of accommodation for students in the same university was fingered as the cause of one of the most destructive unrests on a Ghanaian campus. Please pause for a minute and think through the preceding trajectory of events.

Apart from the scenario painted above, we have also heard narratives about how the setup of the Cocoa Processing Company was met with disdain, among oafish arguments like, chocolates can’t be manufactured in Ghana, since they’d melt in storage, due to the heat. We also know the construction of the Akosombo hydro-electric Dam was condemned. No wonder we sold off our rather advanced nuclear project and suffering the consequences of power shortages today; when if we’d had a little foresight, we would have had the cheapest and cleanest source of energy, while advancing our R&D needs in tandem.

In recent times, NHIS was deplored, Free SHS is being lampooned; and now we have the matter of medical courier drones.

My intimations above are not to suggest that the projects in question were conceived and delivered with surgical precision and stoic efficiency, but the core of my submission here is our inability to accept in principle forward looking initiatives, even before any warranted criticisms. If one accepts that an idea and its implementation is primarily necessary, the tangent of debate on the matter takes a different shape, as opposed to blanket derision of the idea.

That is why I find it particularly troubling the sort of criticisms that are greeting this courier drone project from some no mean quarters.

Are these drones necessary? Well, I have heard arguments that motorcycles could have been used. But have we asked ourselves the question of the efficiency of using motorcycles to deliver blood to several far-removed locations within a health district as compared to using drones? Have we considered the logistics elements? and the hazard of persons plying mostly unmotorable roads on motorcycles? This brings me into the adjunct claim that if the roads were fixed, it’d have been easy to easily transport such medical supplies by road. Yes, our governments have reneged on their fundamental duty of providing reliable transport infrastructure, contributing to severe challenges in healthcare delivery, among others. But is the case being made that until those roads are fixed, technological alternatives that will help circumvent the challenge and transport medical supplies to the boondocks shouldn’t be explored?

Another argument I see, among several such others, is the fact that the hospitals in these areas lack beds and other amenities. Though I am not a healthcare practitioner, I’m inclined to think that access to blood to save the life of a patient is primary over many other considerations. In effect, this is essentially a perfectionist fallacy which shouldn’t be the basis for condemning this drone arrangement.

As such, the expediency of using drones to courier medical supplies in countries that have geographical access challenges like us should be interrogated. We should resort to their best practices and how they iteratively improved the process and the returns on efficiency they’re getting; as opposed to blanket and unfounded arguments that may end up casting every other legitimate concern under a wet blanket.

But the big elephant still staring us in the room is, was this the best we could get out of such a deal? Well, I hesitate to think so, especially judging from the figures we’re being told are the cost per drone. I must admit that running a drone service would obviously not be limited to the cost of purchasing each drone, but will include other logistics and administrative elements, but the public cannot make a fair assessment, due to the lack of adequate information.

This is the point at which our parliamentarians will have to; for a minute, for the lives of our poor countrymen who’re dying without blood, take off their political lenses and objectively scrutinize the merit of the arrangement, and pass it if it’s worth it. On the other hand, the government must be willing to go back to the table with the implementing party to take off any sort of padding or gold plating that may cause the republic excess money we don’t have.

The ultimate objective is that, if the initiative will save lives, let’s implement it. But we shouldn’t in the process speak undue aspersions that would cast a cloud over its legitimacy and social acceptance. In the same vein, it shouldn’t be exploited as a vehicle for the personal enrichment of those who may be involved in the transaction process.

Again, this is where the opacity in our governance and the obstinate refusal of the government to pass the RTI bill creates a breeding ground for due or undue suspicions; that only go to poison the national body politic. At this point, the politicians must begin to realize that their refusal to liberalize information regarding governance is creating a perverse symbiotic relationship between the perception of corruption in government and mounting distrust for any initiative that government may seek to implement; in order to improve the lot of our people.

#GoodMorning from #TheStreetPhilosopher

Sign up via our free email subscription service to receive notifications when new information is available.