When is the free ride for Senior Citizens, starting? [Article]

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo prior to the 2016 presidential elections made some major promises including the free senior high school policy, the one village one dam, the one million per constituency among other key promises, which are being implemented despite the few challenges.

These major promises are not the focus for this write-up but the focus is on the other campaign promises made including the free ride on all public transport to the aged known as senior citizens in the country.

The idea behind this promise the ruling government said was to recognize sacrifices and inputs made to the growth and development of the nation by senior citizens.

The decision was made public on Saturday, July 1 – on the occasion of Ghana’s 57th Republic Day celebration.

Speaking at the 57th anniversary celebration at a lunch organized by President Akufo-Addo for the aged, he stated, “Government remains committed to providing the aged with a ‘freedom pass’ to enable you ride for free on all public transportation.”

A similar policy was implemented by the erstwhile Kufuor-led NPP administration, which enabled students at the basic school level to join public buses free of charge.

It is, however, not clear when the free ride policy for the senior citizens would take effect and whether it would include free train ride.

This write-up is just to remind President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of this noble idea and to ask when it would be implemented.

The President in his 57th Independence Day Anniversary Celebration asked Ghanaians to be ‘Citizens and not Spectators’.

His call meant every patriotic Ghanaian must hold leaders accountable to the promises they give to the people and to follow through to ensure they fulfill them.

To quote the president in his own words, he said: “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation. Let us work until the work is done.” 

As a concerned Ghanaian, I am through this write-up reminding the president of his this promise.

Another remarkable quote from the president was on the need for Ghanaians to be bold and point out his flaws and not to shower praises on him even when it was not deserved.

“I urge you also not to fall into the well-known temptation of telling what I want to hear. It will be equally tempting to tell me that I’m the best thing that ever happened to Ghana than it will be equally tempting to tell me to ignore my critics.”

It meant that as citizens, we have to continue to remind the president of his own promises and the need to fulfil them.

In 2018, the Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia also reiterated that 1Government, through interventions such as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, which provides direct monetary transfer grants to some 259,853 aged persons who are 65 years and above in extreme poor households; activation of over 500,000 NHIS cards for persons aged 70 years and older; and the soon-to-be-introduced Freedom Pass for aged persons to assist them gain priority access to social services such as transport and health that they may require are examples of such programmes, with more in the offing.

His message meant government was committed to the initiative. However, years after this idea was birthed, it has not materialized.

Another promise by the president, which was yet to be implemented, was the announced by government to roll out a programme that will see every school going child from basic to the secondary level enjoy free chocolate every day.

The idea was to boost the consumption of local cocoa products.

Speaking at this year’s World Cocoa Day celebration in Kumasi, which coincided, with the 70th-anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Ghana Cocoa Board, President Akufo-Addo said the government had already received support from some international chocolate companies to kick-start the programme.

“It is for this reason that the Ministry of Agriculture through COCOBOD, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection through the School Feeding Programme, and the Ministry of Education through the Ghana Education Service, are to ensure the sustained provision of cocoa beverages and chocolates to school children from primary school to secondary level,” he said.

The President further explained “…[our] target is to provide every Ghanaian student with a bar of chocolate or cocoa beverage each day whilst in school.”

This, he said “has been given the needed impetus by some manufacturing companies who have agreed to support the programme”.

The promise was lauded but after three years, it has not been implemented.

These promises may seem ‘small’ but no matter how small a promise is, every leader is expected to fulfill them in order to win the trust of the citizens.

By: Nii Obodai

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