Housing Scheme for Western Region Farmers
The Western Regional Minister, Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo says his administration will launch a housing-scheme at affordable cost for farmers and fishermen before the end of the year.
The Minister said this when he met the press in Accra on Tuesday. He said the farmers who toil to cultivate crops and other cash crops that fetch hard currency to support the economy deserve decent accommodation. Preparations are far advanced for the scheme to take off.
Mr. Aidoo said his administration has since the beginning of last year initiated major economic initiatives to strengthen and enhance the overall development of the region. "Prominent amongst them is the Regional Economic Advisory Group headed by Dr. J.A. Addison, which has already had discussions with an investment team from Scotland on the investment potentials of the region. Work is far advanced to establish Western Region Incorporated to mobilize funds locally, and create employment for the people."
Mr. Aidoo said as part of development initiative, the Regional Administration in collaboration with SKKY POWER FM recently launched the Western Regional Development Action Plan and Regional Economic Forum which have been gathering and putting out information, ideas and opinions on the way forward for the region.
He said since investment depends on the availability of land, the Regional Advisory Group is holding discussion with the Regional House of Chiefs to help create land banks for future development activities by potential investors.Mr. Aidoo, who is also the MP for Wassa-Amenfi East said expansion of the Takoradi Airport runway is in the pipeline to enable it receive commercial flights especially with the coming construction of the Mallam-Yamoransa Road. He said his office has tasked a private consultant to study and provide the business plan for Takoradi Airport improvement.
On the Takoradi Harbour, the minister said repair works on the lee breakwater at a cost of 11.2 billion cedis are underway. On-going dredging at a cost of 320,000 Euro is expected to be completed by December 2002. "As a reflection of rehabilitation exercise, vessel traffic has increased from 485 vessels in 2000 t0 554 vessels this year, while cargo volume has increased by 20% and turn round time for reporting vessels has also reduced".
Touching on agriculture, he said since 1983, the region has led in the production of cocoa and currently accounts for more than 54 per cent of the nation's direct output. It is also the leading producer of other major plantation crops - oil palm 35%, coconuts 85% and rubber 100%. It contributes 25% of the country's total export earnings from timber, and about 45,000 metric tonnes of fish per year (12.7% of the national production) is produced by the region which ranks third after Greater-Accra and Central Region in terms of fish landing.
In the area of mineral resources, Mr. Aidoo said Western Region come second in production of gold (65.2% of fine ounces in 2001), large deposits of unexploited diamonds, and iron ore and first in production of bauxite (100%) and manganese (100%) in the country.
The minister said in accordance with government's policy on infrastructural development, the first phase of Axim town roads rehabilitation project (1.2km) at a cost of 500 million cedis, Mpataba-Half Assini-Jewi Wharf trunk road upgrading project at a cost of ?5.9 billion have been completed and handed over. The Sefwi-Wiaso town rehabilitation project at a cost ?7.5 billion is nearing completion.
On education he said the region ranks amongst the highest in the country in terms of illiteracy. 40% of people aged 3 years and above are not in school, and 45.6% of those aged 15 years and above have never been in school. He said this is due to the "galamsey" operation and other farming activities in the region. To reverse the trend 14 new primary schools have been opened and 22 new junior secondary schools approved. Sixty-one projects are being executed in second cycle institutions. This includes construction of workshops, rehabilitation of school structures, supply of furniture and installation of machinery in workshops.