Tema, May 16, GNA - In secondary schools and universities across Ghana, students who are residents of Tema are proud and boldly and readily want their mates to know where they are coming from as they announce often “TM for life”, the acceptable short form for the harbour cum industrial city.
This is not only limited to the educational side, in the entertainment sector especially music arena; musicians with affiliation from the place hardly hide their Tema background.
The likes of Sarkodie, R2B, Kwaw Kese, Eno Barony, Yaa Pono, Dade Opanka, Kwesi Arthur, Kwamena MP, Kofi Moley, Pure Grace, and the legendary A.B. Crenstil and the Ahenfo Band, Jewel Ackah and the butterfly six, among others all pride themselves as “TM”.
Torman and Kwame Nkrumah’s Tema
According to a document from the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA), Tema was created out of a cluster of small fishing villages, with history indicating that “Torman”, as it was originally called was founded by migrating people called the ‘Kpeshies’ who were Gas.
They were said to have brought along seeds of the gourd plant, which they planted at their new-found site, that thrived well producing lots of gourds and the area was referred to as “Torman” meaning a town of gourdes (which has been corrupted into Tema over time), it was around the place that the defunct Meridian Hotel is located.
The traditional people were later relocated to their present location at Tema Manhean in 1961 to make way for the construction of the Tema Harbour.
Wikipedia has it that the first well planned city in West Africa was commissioned by Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah after the construction of a large harbour in 1961. “The Tema Metropolis was designed, planned and developed by the award-winning urban planner and Ghana’s first architect, Theodore S. Clerk.
Due to the cosmopolitan nature and community based plan of Tema, some people often referred to Kwame Nkrumah as the founder of Tema, a situation the Tema Traditional Council (TTC) frown on and objected to, maintaining that Tema (Torman) was in existence way before Dr Nkrumah and that mistake must not be made.
Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA)
The Tema Metropolitan Assembly is the local governance administration body of Tema as it works alongside the TTC, which is the traditional administrators.
It is currently headed by Mr Felix Mensah Nii Anang-La, a political nominee of the President, while its coordinating director is Alhaji Shehu A. Kadri. TMA is made up of 21 elected Assembly members and nine government appointees with two Members of Parliament representing the two constituencies, Tema East and Tema West.
According to ghanadistrict.com Tema became an autonomous council in 1974 and was elevated to the status of a Metropolitan Assembly in December, 1990. TMA is the mother assembly of Adenta, Ashaiman, Tema West and Kpone-Katamanso municipalities as they were all ceded from it with its latest baby being Tema West Municipal Assembly.
Vision and Mission
Its vision and mission as stated in its profile for 2018-2021 indicate that respectively it “envisions an international standard Metropolis where its inhabitants will enjoy the full benefit of modernization and comfort on a peaceful, reliable and sustainable basis” and “committed to improving the quality of life of the people in the Metropolis through the provision of essential services and the creation of enabling environment to ensure the total sustainable development of the Tema Metropolis”.
As enshrined in the code of conduct of the Local Government Service, its core values include; permanence and anonymity, transparency and accountancy, professionalism, timeless and client focus.
The TMA as part of the 16 and 260 districts in the Greater Accra Region and Ghana respectively, has as its functions enshrined in the Local Governance Act (1993), Act 462 and LI 2012, LI 2003 that established the district.
These functions include; day to day administration of the metro, implementation of government’s policies and programmes, mobilization of material and human resources for development of the district, management of the allocation of the District Assemblies Common Fund and other grants for the provision of public amenities and social infrastructure such as schools, water, electricity, and health sanitation facilities.
Other functions are passing and enforcement of by-laws to regulate public behaviour, preparation and approval of development plans to regulate physical development, investing in income generating activities, facilitate the promotion of tourism in cooperation with other stakeholders, establish, maintain, and control parks as well as regulate or prohibit planting, cutting, tapping, or destruction of any tree or vegetation in the Metropolis.
Tourism potential and restoring Tema
Tema has a lot of economic, cultural, social and tourist potentials that could add up to the internally generated fund of the TMA and boost their provision of the needed amenities for the people.
Restoring Tema to its former glory has been a mantra successive heads of the Assembly had infused into their vision for the harbour cum industrial city over the years.
While the former Municipal chief executive and current MP for Tema East, Mr Isaac Ashai Odamtten adopted the eight thematic points to achieve this, Mr Anang-La, the current MCE came up with the ‘restoration agenda’ to achieve the same aim.
Tema prides itself to be at the centre of the world as it is believed that the Greenwich meridian which is Longitude 00 passes through the metropolis and meets the equator in Ghana waters of Gulf of Guinea.
It is therefore interesting and worrying that even though TMA is located in the centre of the world and few metres from the actual Greenwich Meridian line which is located at the premises of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) on the Greenwich at Tema Community one, it was yet to project it and invest into making it a big tourist sight.
The Assembly may have succeeded in creating some sister city-relations with cities outside who have link to the Greenwich but that is definitely not enough.
As stated as part of its functions to “facilitate the promotion of tourism in cooperation with other stakeholders”, the TMA, which is the only Assembly in Ghana located in the centre of the world must put in plans to properly promote tourism and restore the city to its former glory, to attract people to come to the place and be part of the ‘TM for life’ slogan.
The abandoned “Tema Merifest” which was aimed at promoting traditional unity in a cosmopolitan city must be revived as it gave opportunity to all settlers and natives to showcase their culture while affording the young the platform to learn their traditions even though they may be far away from their ‘homes’. Such festivals can put Tema on the world map not only because the Greenwich Meridian line passes through it but because there is more to learn and witness when you visit the city.
The idea of having a monument to honour Dr Nkrumah for giving Tema a planned city was a beautiful concept as it will not only immortalize the contributions and memory of Ghana’s first president, but will also attract people into the metropolis to share in it. The aged, young and children will also get a recreational area at the park, but all these are yet to materialize several years after its initiation.
Successive heads of the Assembly must make it a point to continue what their predecessors started to ensure that Tema receives the needed restoration.
It is good to start new projects but abandoning such potential projects and programmes only add up to the deterioration of the city as having uncompleted projects all over the place coupled with indiscriminate siting of structures and containers certainly takes the glory of the town and the Assembly which is located at the centre of the world, TMA.