When the culture of maintenance is gone

When the national team, the Black Stars, recently refused to train at the Accra Sports Stadium as part of their preparation for their first leg match against the national team of the Comoros Island because the pitch was not in proper condition, that refusal did not come as a surprise to many people.

This is because the lack of the culture of maintenance in this country is so serious that the entire system is getting overwhelmed by it.

Like little drops of water that have become a mighty ocean, non-maintenance of important structures has virtually put them in a state of decay.

It is sad that Ghana has now reached a state where people are displaying a poor attitude towards the maintenance of state structures and facilities.

For example, most police barracks have become poster children for lack of maintenance.

Also many public school buildings are more like pig sty than schools for seeking knowledge and some law court buildings, are no less different from squatters quarter.

For those of us who daily drive pass the seat of government, Flagstaff House, the green grass in front of it looks something else that is not green.

The premises of most of our governmental buildings and structures, including ministries, departments, corporations, bungalows, flats, hospitals and state houses are horrifying.

Quite a number of market centres are comparable to refuse dumps and the various public toilet facilities are really disgusting.

What is sad is that people are occupying or plying all these premises and structures and to worsen matters, there is a body responsible for the maintenance of these properties.

Sadly, Ghanaians are always waiting for the government to pay for the consequences of their lack of maintenance culture.

It is my belief that repair works and rehabilitation go a long way to help government to redirect available funds to other economic sectors to solve the myriad of economic problems that the country is facing.

It is also important to note that preventable damage caused to infrastructure and the repairs that are carried out on them are financial losses to the country. For both safety and economic reasons, it is equally important that hospitals, schools, road networks, vehicles, homes, office buildings should always be in good conditions. I think that this can be achieved through preventable measures such as the development of a maintenance culture which will go a long way to solve the problem.

Three years ago when he was the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, said during the 82nd Speech and Prize-Giving Day celebration of the St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast that the lack of a maintenance culture in the country was causing the nation a great deal of money which could have been channelled into development projects.

According to him the attitude of Ghanaians now is to “build, neglect and rehabilitate” instead of going by the axiom, “a stitch in time saves nine”

He was right when he observed that watching “the infrastructure bequeathed by our forefathers to decay before looking for gargantuan funding to rehabilitate them” was unpardonable, adding that this development has devastating effects on the economy.

Fact is that every infrastructure has an economic life span that can only be sustained through proper and regular maintenance, and that lack of strong and universal maintenance in Ghana is due to lack of ethics in effective maintenance. Also lack of commitment from leaders in all spheres of the Ghanaian society as well as the absence of clear policies and financial resources to effect regular maintenance and the failure of managements across the country was worrying. Some of the blame should be heaped at the door of the Ministry of Finance which approves funds for new office structures, the acquisition of new furniture and curtains but fail to provide for the maintenance budget submitted by the management of the various ministries.

It is important for people in this country to cultivate a maintenance culture because there is the need for a change of attitude to government property so that both government and corporate properties will be handled with care. Clearly there has to be a change of attitude towards maintenance.

It is very important for people to know that it is not enough to always build a new structure without any long-term plan for maintenance.

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