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Regional News Fri, 27 Feb 2004

Asante-Akim South District Assembly Forges Ahead

A GNA Feature by G.B. Osei-Antwi

Tema, Feb. 27, GNA - The Local Government Act of 1993, Act 462 designates the District/Municipal/Metropolitan Assemblies as the development and planning authorities in their areas. District Assemblies are administrative and economic management entities whose efficiency is essential to effective national development.

The assemblies are pivots around which democracy at the grassroots level revolves and bring government to the doorsteps of the rural people. It has aroused local initiative and made possible a great leap in development in rural areas.

It can, therefore, be said that the decentralisation policy adopted in 1988 has shaped the contours of public administration reform, local government reform and development thinking which together are exerting strong influence on governance.

The desirable development places special burden on district assemblies and their key officials to play very important roles to promote the change envisaged by their policies.

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It is, therefore, gratifying to note that the Asante-Akim South District Assembly with its headquarters at Juaso has used its internally generated funds, District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF), Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) fund and other donor supported projects to bring about the rapid transformation of the District.

Access roads have been constructed where non-existed while bad ones have been re-shaped, re-gravelled, sealed or re-sealed. Educational infrastructure has been provided and children now have decent classrooms for their studies instead of the old and dilapidated structures and under trees.

The Assembly has provided clinics to bring health care to the doorsteps of the people; provided potable water; power where there was no electricity supply and sanitation services to improve the environment.

The Assembly in 2003 disbursed a total of 3.3 billion cedis of the DACF allocated to it to undertake 16 projects including the construction of school blocks at Yawkwei and Obogu, Medical Ward at Juaso District Hospital, 16 seater Aqua Privy toilets at Asankare and Juaso. Other projects undertaken with the fund were the renovation of court buildings, staff bungalows, connection of water supply to assembly bungalows, construction of semi-detached quarters for assembly, net-working of computers for the administration, completion of Police quarters and construction of area council office for Obogu/Morso, and the construction of nurses' quarters at Dwendwnase.

In addition, European Union (EU) funded micro-projects at the cost of over one billion cedis. Projects completed included the construction of rural clinic at Komeso, classrooms for Kurofa Junior Secondary School (JSS), primary school block at Morso, JSS block at Nkwanta, nurses' quarters and rural clinic at Obogu.

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Other EU micro projects were the construction of primary school block at Tokwai Asuboi, classroom blocks for Praso, Subinso and Ahyiresu JSS and teachers' quarters at Banso.

Dr Lord Justice Gyamfi Fenteng, District Chief Executive, announced these during the People's Assembly Forum held at Juaso. Traditional rulers, assembly members, opinion leaders, heads of departments and New Patriotic Party (NPP) functionaries attended the Assembly.

He said the HIPC fund more than one billion cedis to the Assembly to undertake 18 projects including aqua privy toilets at Bompata, Ofoase, Atwedie, Wankyi, Kurofa, Praso and Odubi, while five public urinals have been provided at Juaso, Asankare, Obogu, Adonfe and Yawkwei.

Classroom blocks have been built at Morso and Yawkwei and a slaughterhouse has been constructed at Juaso and a butchers' shop at Obogu.

Dr Fenteng said under the Village Infrastructure Project (VIP) 1.9 billion cedis has been used to construct seven markets at Asuboa, Tanokrom, Muramura, Dadieso, Kantanso, Atwedie and Brantuokrom. He announced that under the component of VIP, feasibility studies have been completed on 10 farm roads to be constructed at an estimated cost of 5.7 billion cedis. The roads are Adomfe to Tanokrom; Tanokrom to Asotosu; Junction to Atotosu; Kwabeng to Kadjo Formanso; Odubi to Kumeagya; Koikrom to Kpanwa; Atwedie to Akokofori; Morso to Adomfe; Yaw Bronya to Konkoma and Saabo to Odiifo Wilson.

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On the utilisation of Member of Parliament's (MP's) share of DACF, Dr Fenteng announced that Mr Alex Korankye, MP, in consultation with the assembly and opinion leaders, supplied 120 dual desks, 40 collapsible chairs and tables with metal stands, all worth 36.4 million cedis to five primary schools and Ofoase Secondary/Technical School.

The Chief Executive said a total of 70 bags and six packets of roofing sheets were also distributed to two primary schools, Mamponteng L/A and Pra-River Islamic schools, while Dampong Police station was given cement and roofing sheets, Pra-River Market, two kindergartens (KG) at Akwatia and Atwedie had two packets roofing sheets each.

Dr Fenteng criticised the output of contractors who are constructing classroom blocks with ancillary facilities that was being financed with the GETFund, describing their works as disappointing.

The Regional Tender Board awarded projects at Banka, Bompata, Breku and Dansabonso in April 2003 for completion within eight months but these had delayed and with only one month to go, the beneficiary communities were becoming impatient, he said.

He said Messrs Jokodino Construction Works, who are working on Banka project had been issued a formal warning by project consultants. Dr Fenteng said out of the two per cent of the Common Fund allocation - the 120 million cedis district education fund, 79 million cedis had been disbursed to student beneficiaries, 19 teacher trainees bonded to serve the District after their courses, 25 tertiary education level students who hail from the District, 90 secondary and basic school students and two physically challenged students.

On National Health Insurance Scheme, he said the government made available 250 million cedis to the assembly to implement a start-up proposal prepared by Messrs Organisation and Systems of Accra. Officers have been secured and a three-main interim team made up of a manager, data control officer and an accountant are being assisted by the Assembly; Department of Cooperatives, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to publicise the scheme. Three training workshops have been organised for assembly members, heads of departments, 100 prospective collectors and 80 health insurance chairmen drawn from 80 communities.

The coding of houses and listing of prospective contributors to the scheme was completed in November. Publication and public education on the scheme is being sustained.

Dr Fenteng said among the constraints of the assembly were understaffing, limited computer application skills, inadequate office and residential accommodation.

The staffing position of the assembly stands at 77, with 14 senior officers, 47 junior officers, with 10 assembly paid staff. There is also low revenue base and inadequate telecom facilities, office equipment and vehicles for departments. On the way forward, Dr Fenteng said activities and programmes to be pursued in 2004 included stronger partnership with Traditional Authorities, effective functioning of Town/Area Councils and revenue centres.

Public Relation Unit would be made more vibrant to promote tourism and give Juaso a facelift under the Urban IV Programme.

Source: GNA