The Ghana Institute of Planners, the umbrella body of built environment practitioners in the country, has given the strongest indication of ensuring high standards in the spatial planning and urban development sector of the economy.
This assurance of ensuring high standards came to the fore at the Forty-ninth Annual General Meeting conference of the institute held in Accra on the theme: 'Building Resilient Communities Beyond Pandemic's: the role of the planning professional.'
In a welcome address, the president of the Institute, Mohammed Alhassan, said Ghana's planning models are colonial relics that must be looked at.
According to him, the pandemic posed a challenge for spatial planning in the country as many of the planning models in operation are colonial relic and tend to fit a typical European urban morphology, he said.
He added that, the Coronavirus pandemic has called to question the role of the professional planners in the country.
He said even though the world is not a stranger to pandemics, the sheer number of lives lost worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 present an unprecedented challenge to public health and human activities in general.
This pandemic has heavily restricted human movement and interactions and as a result exposed the deficiencies in the planning models of the country.
The COVID situation in Ghana was alarming as it led to many people moving from the urban areas to the rural areas.
He said the pandemic brought huge pressure and challenges on facilities across the country.
"As planners, the pandemic has taught us a lesson to re-examine the situations of planning in the country".
He expressed concern about the rate at which parks are being converted into development facilities in the country, even though parks served a major purpose at the peak of the pandemic, where it was converted to makeshift medical facilities.
Delivering the keynote address, the Director-General (DG) of the National Development Planning Commission( NDPC), Dr Kodjo Mensah Abrampa, revealed that seventy percent of Ghanaians could not stay home when the lockdown was announced to help contain the spread of the pandemic in the country because as 'Africans we always want to be out' .
According to him, people could not stay at home because of the compound shared facilities in the country.
"A lot of people in the country use public toilets that are outside the shared compounds and had to go out and queue as usual.
"This is where planning readily comes to mind adding that we must plan to reduce risk and uncertainties in the country", he said.
He explained that the objectives of planning are to offer support the citizens to go through the effects of pandemics and offer resilience.
"It is the duty of planners to guide the policymakers to protect and enhance the lives of the people during pandemics".
He appealed planners to enhance their governance and advocacy programmes to basically determine where investments should go.
He reminded members of the institute to use data-based research and not dwell on prophecies.
We are in a changing world and planners need new knowledge, new abilities to plan and response to the next pandemics.
He was passionate about planners continually learning to meet the changing demands in the planning sector of the country.
As planners, you should be able to anticipate pandemics and alert policy policymakers to provide safety for the citizen in the country.
In the Chairman's remark, Nana Ato Arthur, the Head of the Local Government Service, called on members to adhere to the code of ethics in all their endeavours of planning.
He reminded to stick to the planning cycle and move away from the personal silos in the country.
He called on them to avoid the business as usual mantra and plan using reliable data.