Having traveled to both Babianeha and Kranka in the preceding days, Kurt and I decided to go downtown in Sunyani to determine the pricing on various construction supplies. After all, while it is possible to bring books and laptops along in checked luggage, bringing along cement and rebar is out of the question for the next cohort, and Sunyani is the closest city to the villages.
We had already determined the price of cement at a small stand close to the forestry hostel, but we wanted to see if it was possible to get a better price elsewhere. Thus, we took a taxi into town on Thursday morning, and began walking around.
There was, we knew, a store that sold Polytanks—the ubiquitous black plastic water tanks seen just about anywhere where water is stored—so we found our way there first. The tanks come in a variety of sizes, but it is doubtful that a village would find a tank smaller than a thousand liters very useful, so we obtained prices for the larger tanks. From speaking with the chief in Kranka, we knew that a thousand liter tank should be about GH1400, and this was indeed the right number.
This was reassuring; one of the taxi drivers who had driven us had told us that business people automatically double their prices when they see Oboroni, so it was good to know that we were actually getting the proper price without having to barter. To a certain degree we had expected this result, since it had been our experience that anything sold in a store or a restaurant had a fixed price, and for everything else all bets were off.
In any case, we proceeded in our pricing secure in the knowledge that the prices we obtained would be accurate. In the store that sold the tanks, we also priced out PVC piping, and from there moved on to a store next door that sold rebar.
The rebar was all outside, bent into enormous skinny U’s and red-brown from a patina of rust. The rebar, much like the tanks and the pipes, came in an extraordinary range of sizes, but we explained to the saleswoman what we intended to use it for and quickly found what we needed.
Her shop also sold cement, but here the selection was rather limited: cement made locally in
We had told her that we were pricing items out for a project that would, at the soonest, begin in a year, and she warned us that the prices would have probably increased by then. However, we had figured on dealing with inflation, and told her that we were trying to get a general idea of the cost.
Of course, it isn’t only building materials that must be paid for. Thus, we decided to talk to an architect. The firm we found, IKA Consult, was located in a building somewhat incongruously called the White House (complete with American flag), but the office was entirely professional, with both drafting tables and computers running CAD programs. We explained our reason for being in
He said that he did, but there was no one size fits all option for such a project. It depends, he said, on the size of the community, the available water resources, the land, and the budget. The last of these he stressed especially, saying that his firm would be able to arrange the entire project, from design to construction, if given a budget to work with.
Since we had not yet determined what project Babianeha considered the most important and since we ourselves would not be back next year, we exchanged contact information, and thanked the architect for his time.