Tamale’s growth and expansion in the last thirty years can aptly be described as simply stunning. The city is now one of the largest metropolis in the West African region, with a vibrant economy and home to almost a million residents.
With an international airport that serves as a regional hub for flights to the nation’s capital Accra and the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the future of Tamale looks remarkably bright and promising.
Yet as all big urban centers go, Tamale has its share of challenges, to wit, disgruntled residents, inadequate supply of water and electricity, street congestions, traffic nightmares and crime. It is not a pretty picture.
But city authorities cognizant of what is at stake have risen to the occasion, prescribing solutions to problems as best as they can, and with the scant resources they can muster.
Given Tamale’s potential to attract investments, both domestic and foreign, that ultimately would spark unheralded economic growth, much is expected of city authorities. They are required to make living in the city as comfortable as possible.
To this end, if they take decisions that are anathema to the hopes and aspirations of residents, then, there is cause for concern which explains why the allegation by the Forestry Commission on Monday that the Mayor of Tamale, Musah Superior is conniving with a private entity to commercialize parts of the Water Works Forest Reserve of Tamale is very troubling and should raise red flags. The Commission claims that the mayor had written to it requesting permission to evict squatters so that the developer could move in.
Yes, Water Works Forest Reserve has a long-checkered history, one that Tamale certainly isn’t proud of. It is an open secret that those who indulge in anti-social activities ----criminals and grass (wee) smokers ---- use it as a base from which to conduct their nefarious activities and to have a good time.
Still, that does not preclude it from being developed into a huge spectacular and breathtaking parks and garden, something similar to what New York City has, Central Park, a place where we can all go at any given time of the day to relax our nerves, meet our friends and families and in sum, have fun.
Musah Superior has been to New York City and he definitely knows Central Park. He knows the benefits of having such a park. Does he think the Mayor of New York City would do what he Superior contemplates doing? The reaction of New Yorkers would have been visceral, I tell you that.
Those who know the last Parks and Gardens Tamale had remember it fondly. Unfortunately, it was inexplicably annexed to make way for a double road and some financial institutions. Sad.
Water Works Forest is a sprawling tract of land that could have multiple purposes. I don’t know what the mayor has up his sleeves, but he ought to come out immediately and either refute the allegation or grudgingly agree that he is indeed in co-hoots with a developer to desecrate a part of the city we have known and love all our lives.
Then history will remember that during his time in office, he turned Tamale into a concrete jungle.