Gonjaland must rise to thank president Mahama for the fufulso-damongo-sawla road!!!

Thu, 6 Aug 2015 Source: Haruna, Mahama

God willing today Thursday 6th August, 2015, President Mahama will officially hand over the Fufulso-Damongo- Sawla road to the Chiefs and people of Gonjaland. The ceremony will take place at the historical town of Larabanga in the West Gonja District.

First of all I wish to say I always see myself as a Gonja first and NPP second. Anything I say for President Mahama in this feature is because he has solved one of the greatest problem of Gonjaland not because I believe in the ideology of the Presidents party. I would have had same words for any President for any political party.

Good deeds as as well development has no political colour. Indeed this whole thing of party ideology is a sham. The most important thing for Ghanaians is meeting the basic needs of the the people.

Yes we were all witnesses to this road just two years ago. We cannot quantify the negative effects the road had on Gonjaland for centuries.

In fact I had the opportunity of meeting President Mahama then as Vice- President with Ussif Jajah in 2011 shortly before the death of President John Evans Atta Mills. As proud Gonjalanders we told the President one of his greatest achievement for Gonjaland will be if he is able to work on the Sawla- Damongo- Fufulso road. Then Vice- President Mahama explained all his moves to get this road so dear to Gonjaland constructed. I must say we were privilege to be some of the first among young people from Gonjaland to see the drawings of the road.

Fast forward to the Yagbon Damba 2011 during the first Anniversary and Damba of Yagbonwura Tuntumba Boresa (I), King and Overlord of the Kingdom at Damongo on 23rd February, 2011.

I was elated when then Vice-President John Dramani Mahama in his speech said; "...If this road is not constructed what message would I have for Gonjaland in 2016".

Today we are all witnesses to the road. We must all therefore rise to thank President John Dramani Mahama for his singular initiative in seeing to the construction of the 147.5 kilometer or 98miles Fulfulso-Damongo-Sawla road and as well seeing to its completion.

The people of Gonjaland had lost hope of having the Fufulso-Damongo-Sawla road constructed after promises by various governments since independence.

Indeed there was much joy and anticipation by residents of the area, drivers and commuters when a sod-cutting ceremony was performed for the commencement of work on the road on 25 January, 2012 after which work was started by the China Waters and Electrical Corporation Ltd and China Harbor and Engineering Ltd with the aim enhancing mobility, promote efficient, affordable transport services along the Fufulso-Damongo-Sawla road and improve livelihoods in the project area.

Though the people were happy, they were at the same time skeptical about the realisation of the project following similar promises and groundbreaking ceremonies that never saw the light of day by past governments. They breathed a sigh of great relief when heavy earth moving machines moved in to start work.

The project which cost government about One Hundred and Sixty-Six ($166m) Million Dollars will provide adequate drainage, culverts, walkways and public transport facilities such as bus stops and lay-bys. Funding for the road project is a full grant from the African Development Bank while government of Ghana was responsible for the payment of compensation to project affected persons.

With the construction, the route between Fufulso and Sawla becomes the shortest link between Tamale (the largest city in Northern Ghana and Northern Region Capital) and Wa (the capital of the Upper West Region) and will now also constitute the main gateway from Tamale to the Upper West Region and Southern Burkina Faso. It will serve as the only access route to three of Ghana's important tourism landmarks, the Mole National Park, the Larabanga Ancient Mosque and the Mystic Stone.

The Expected benefits of the project include reduction in travel time and cost reduction in vehicle operating cost, improved accessibility to markets and education/ health facilities and reduction of dust pollution. With the completion of the project, more investors, including tourists, would turn their attention to the area to enjoy the many investment opportunities that abound in the district and also visit the various tourists sites located in the area for memorable experiences.

The construction of this road will benefit the population living in the projects area as a result of increased access to markets for agricultural products, education and healthcare services. The communities in the area of the road are predominantly engaged in farming, producing over twenty-five percent of the food output in the Northern Region

This all-weather Fufulso-Damongo-Sawla road will also reduce transport costs for both passenger and freight thereby contributing to poverty reduction.

Furthermore, the reconstructed road will open up the project area and immensely improve accessibility to the major tourism sites including the Mole National Park, the Larabanga Mystic Stone, the Gonja Kingdom Regalia and the ancient Mosque at Larabanga which are all located in the project area.

The previous condition of the road lead to major consequences for mobility and economic activities. It left passengers with bitter memories of frustration and bodily pains following long hours of travel on the pothole-riddled dusty road and as a result, the road has claimed several lives and maimed many passengers in accidents thus, causing untold pain and hardship to families and relations of victims. The road network was gravel surfaced with most sections unmotorable during the rainy season, as such grounding both public and private transport at certain times of the year.

The bad condition of the road slackened the pace of business considerably and limited the opportunity for trade and agricultural productivity. There was no practical, reasonable alternative to the Fulfulso-Sawla-Damongo road for travelers to and from Tamale or Wa. All the fuel hauled from Buipe to the Upper West Region goes by this route in spite of its roughness.

During the ceremony to cut the sod for the construction of the road, The President (then Vice President) John Dramani Mahama also assured communities without electricity of government's determination to get them connected to the national grid. "I want to assure you that the contract has been approved by Parliament and to be executed by Hunagi Electrical of China to electrify 15 (fifteen) communities in every district of the Northern Region. This project covers 500 communities in the Northern Region alone and I want to assure all those on the Fufulso-Damongo-Sawla road that every community is going to be captured and electrified".

Per the contract, communities along the Fufulso-Damongo-Sawla road are to benefit from modern educational infrastructure, market, hospitals and a lorry park under the Fufulso- Damongo-Sawla road construction project.

"The contract would involve the provision of portable water to all the communities along the road, rehabilitation of all dilapidated schools, construction of health posts as well as CHPS Compounds and construction of a modern accident center at the Damongo District Hospital" then Vice President Mahama confirmed.

This write-up will not be complete without commending President John Atta Mills (late) for spear-heading this monumental project. President John Dramani Mahama must be commended fulfilling a big promise. Gonjaland is grateful that the President has redeemed his pledge.

A big commendation goes to the Contractors for a yeoman's job, the DCE for the West Gonja District Ali Kassim for his effective co-ordination and the Member of Parliament and former District Chief Executive Hon Adam Mutawakilu for his cardinal role played from the beginning of the project stretching from the pre-bidding processes through bidding and award of the contracts up to the completion of the project and to the Chiefs of Gonjaland and the Gonjaland Youth Association who have severally appealed to government to as a matter of urgency work on the road.

President John Dramani Mahama's government shall forever be remembered by the people of Gonjaland for this project.

Asan Kushun Kagbanya!!

By Mahama Haruna

The writer is the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Gonjaland Youth Association.

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama