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Hajia Alima Mahama

When property rate knocks at your gate – should you return to sender?

I can say that I am a law-abiding citizen on the score that I am energised to check-in where statutory rules and regulations apply.

However, I sulk; I curse and almost swear when my annual property rate notice is delivered at my gate every year. Why do we continue to pay property rate to the local Assemblies with no corresponding services to communities? And for how long should we give it to God in this unfair game?

The more one thinks about it, the more one feels that over the years to this day, we continue to be cheated by our local authorities.  We are a bunch of easy to satisfy people and feel at pains to make noise even when we know we are being exploited. “Oh, it does not matter”, is our sing song. When our environment is covered with plastic waste and other filth, we quickly turn to the central government and lay the blame squarely there. 

MMDAs and property rates

We always forget that there is an entity called Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) who are mandated to see to environmental cleanliness of our communities among other duties. The MMDAs run to us every year to collect taxes from us and even employ people to chase us with reminders. Depending on one’s property location, these assemblies are collecting hundreds and thousands of Cedis as property rates yet give communities virtually nothing comparable. Whether it is a residential or commercial property, what really do our taxes do for us?

For two decades in my community, individual households have had to provide street lights at their own cost. We continue to fill up our dusty roads to make them motorable whenever erosion eats up parts thereof. In our communities, individuals have had to construct outside drains to help with drainage and sometimes have even gone to the extent of covering them up to avoid others throwing rubbish into them.

If our property rates cannot provide us with decent access roads in our communities and proper drainage systems, then where else should one look for help? The assemblies seem to have abandoned their waste collection duties in communities and left residents to fix their own waste collection as if the property rates one paid did not matter. Any wonder people are so indisciplined with their household waste.

Responsibilities of local authorities

Elsewhere, local authorities are up to the game with the health, environment and safety of their communities on the top of their agenda. The taxes they collect are seen to be working for the people. They are prompt with waste collection and even go to the extent of collecting recyclable waste from households at no cost and sell them to recycle plants to raise additional income to support development back in those communities.

Such local authorities care about sustainability in their communities. Parks and gardens are not afterthoughts but a deliberate part of their planning to give back to their constituents. Not here in our case. We have land spaces. They are sometimes left fallow for encroachers to erect unauthorised structures on them. They then run to inscribe “Stop work, produce permit” in bold red ink on walls.    One would like to see property rates working for communities.  We need to see more green spaces in our communities as pointers to what local Assemblies can do with the taxes they collect.

One may not be far from wrong to admit that our local Assemblies do not care about our collective needs. If they do, why are they allowing developers to build high rise flats in the midst of single-storey residential communities? These buildings are virtually over-looking people’s bedrooms and kitchens. 

Today, the once-upon-a-time plush residential areas are being converted into commercial areas. The serenity of a residential abode is no longer there. Our Assemblies have allowed Mosques, Churches and prayer centres to be located just a few metres away from people’s homes. The result is excessive noise pollution which has become real nuisance to communities. Do our local authorities not care about the health implications of excessive noise in communities whose taxes are keeping them in business?

One can only ask for our property rates to work for us. It is just fair that when we consistently and dutifully pay our local taxes, one sees the returns even if they come in bits. For now, some of our communities have been neglected for too long with no compensation in return.

We plead with our MMDAs to start giving back in the form of amenities, some of the property rates they collect. That should not be asking for too much, I reckon. 

Source: Reality Zone With Vicky Wireko



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