Last week Friday 31/11/2014 found me at the Internal Flights section of KIA aka Kotoka International Airport. I was on my way to visit The Alhassan’s. I timed myself to be at the airport thirty minutes before check in, as I always do when I am traveling by air; be it internal or international. Unfortunately [or fortunately] this is a habit of mine which I have learnt to adhere to with passion. My flight to Tamale was with AWA aka Africa World Airlines. I think there ia another airline that flies up to Tamale, Antrack or something of a similar name. I will check this out later and let you know.
I always feel nostalgic when travelling to Tamale. I have so many memories close to my heart of the place. My first contact of this Northern town was when my mother was transferred up there to head the Home Economics Department at Tamale Technical School, as it was then called in those day. I believe, correct me if I am wrong, it is now called Tamale Polytechnic.
My flight was uneventful. Onboard, we had the usual pre-recorded inflight safety announcements and we were airborne in no time. Fascinating was the fact that as the plane progressed to the shoreline and then make its turn up north, I could see my crib tucked away in Nyaniba Estates from my seat window. Forty five minutes later, I arrived in Tamale to find Andrew waiting for me.
We first took a ride to his Project called Oasis which is situated in the Rice area of Tamale. Don’t ask me the exact spot. Tamale has changed so drastically for me that get any sensible bearings of the Town. He has so much passion for this Project, I sincerely wish him all the best. In a jest, he plans of having a Grill, Lounge Bar and a Soccer Room. There will also be a Roof Top drinking spot where informally dressed people can have a drink. The Lounge Bar will be exclusive and will only admit formally dressed client – understandably so. The Grill Bar will be outside and have tasty sizzling grilled food. The Soccer Room will be for watching football matches on wide screen TVs. The concept is simple and has the potential to be a winner. There will be no packing within the ground, which makes sense. Parking will be outside. As you can see, he is maximising the plot to provide service to his clients and not their cars [smile] From Oasis location, we headed home – Airport Ridge where the Alhassan’s live.
Tamale can easily be referred to as The Wild North. When I used to live there, cars and bicycles were the most commons means of transportation. Yes, there were others who had motor bikes, but in those days, that form of mobility was restricted to the “elite”. fast forward to present day Tamale, you have practically motor bikes every where. I think I can safely say that the number of people who use bicycles has reduced. The number of cars has increased. What actually makes Tamale the Wild North is the lack of understanding for simple road regulations. You have to see this to fully comprehend what I mean by lack of understanding for simple road regulations. I honestly do not think those in control of the vehicles have successfully passed a driving test. It is absolutely madness. The level of chaos is out of this universe. Actually I have seen similar chaos before. That was in Bangalore, however that was ordered chaos. It is obvious that those who have entered this environment were shell shocked and have gradually accepted this to be the norm.
The other change I would like to write about is the current state of Tamale Secondary School, or rather Tamale Senior Secondary School, as they call it now. How a top secondary school of 20 years back could fall into its current state beats my imagination. Has been been any form of major upgrades to the buildings since I 20 years ago? No! Andrew took me round the school and my heart felt deflated. How could this have happened? Everything seems seriously run down. It will be certainly nice to see all these buildings properly renovated, but that will obviously take a miracle.
Tamale is growing very fast both in population and business but at an uncontrollable rate. I do not suppose one can control population growth in a town like Tamale, but something can be done about illegal structures that have been erected along the main roads. The foot paths by the roads have been hijacked by street traders, even to the extent whereby they over flow onto the streets themselves.
How do I see Tamale in the next 5 years to come? With plans to build an International Airport in the not too distant future,the future looks bright. A lot of land is being sold ans snapped up quickly. Buildings are slowly cropping up especially on the main road leading to the airport. For Tamale to grow intelligently, the people need to be educated. They need to be informed about constructive development, how to engage this and the benefits if it is engaged properly. The Town Planning Department needs to be more focused in the running and development of the Town. I feel that a lot of traders are doing their own thing. Everyone seems to be able to set up shop anywhere without proper authority. Tamale should not be seen as a Town of political interest. By this I mean development, most in terms of road construction should not materialise only when elections are due and the present political party in power starts splashing huge amounts of money towards this.
I think the most difficult thing to do in terms of development in Tamale will be how to get the people, especially the street traders to understand that trading in the pavements is not the right thing to do. Then I suppose these same traders will turn round and ask the question “where can we trade from?”; which is a fairly valid question.