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Regional News Wed, 6 Nov 2002

W/R Chalks Up Modest Development

The Western Regional Minister, Mr. Joseph Aidoo, has stated that his outfit is currently developing the tourism potentials in the region.

According to Mr. Aidoo,the region lagged behind because of low tourism sensibility, inadequate physical development, lack of infrastructure and low investment inflows.

He said the NPP government had tackled the problems boldy and its efforts had begun yielding positive results. Some of the achievements are the start of the development work on the Monkey Hill ecotourism project at Takoradi.

The steady inflow of EU funds has aided in the completion of the Ankasa ecotourism project, upliftment of the Domama Rock Shrine at Wassa Domama to international tourism status, the establishing of five different websites on tourism in the region among others.

He made those disclosures to the press when he took his turn at the meet-the-press series in Accra yesterday.

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On education, the minister explained that 45.6 per cent illiteracy of people aged 15 years and above in the region is caused by parents allowing their children to engage in "galamsey" activities.

In view of that, he said his administration was taking measures to curtail the menace by drawing up a bill that would exclude children from mining activities. He announced that the region put up 14 new primary schools and 33 Junior Secondary Schools. Also nine out of the 61 second cycle school projects earmarked for the region had been completed, he said, adding that donor funds for educational activities at the district level increased from ?2.5 billion to ?5.9 billion this year.

On health, he declared that the construction of Juabeso-Bia District, Sameye Health Centre in the Jomoro District and Nkroful Health Centre in the Nzema East District are underway. He mentioned that eight government hospitals in the region had been provided with standby generators and other hospital items and that efforts were underway to eradicate guinea worm completely from the region.

According to the minister the region experienced a remarkable improvement in food production, livestock and fishery with food production going up by 2.4per cent from 1,508,527 metric tones last year to 1,544,606 metric tones this year.

Western Region is ranked third in the country in terms of fish production (45,000metric tones) and that major reforms were underway under the Fishery Sub-sector Capacity Project to establish a long-term sustainability of fishery resources and to maximize their contribution to the country, the minister said.

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He stated that the Takoradi Port had seen major developments in its performance and that the lee breakwater is being repaired at a cost of ?11.2 billion. He also said that the port was being dredged at the cost of 320,000Euros and it would to be completed in December next year for larger vessels to dock there. Cargo volumes had increased from 485 vessels to 554 vessels this year because of the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire.

The minister dropped the hint that a regional economic advisory group headed by Dr. Addision had been established to discuss the investment development potentials of the region with their counterpart from Scotland.

Mr. Aidoo stated that plans are far advanced for the establishment of the Western Region Incorporated, an organ that would mobilise local funds for the creation of indigenous industries so as to create employment for the youth. Also, he said that a secretariat would be created at the Regional Administration at Sekondi to provide a one-stop desk for information to investors and the general public on the investment potentials of the region.

He also emphasised that the Takoradi Airstrip would soon be expanded to enable it receive commercial flights. He declared that a farmer's housing scheme would be established to provide farmers and fishermen affordable housing.

On security, he said that, the Regional Security Council has established Regional Communication Network to enhance the operations of the security agencies which US$41,000 has been raised to procure communication equipment and accessories.

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"With the completion of this project, banks and mining companies in the region and security patrol teams will be hooked on to the network to control armed robbery".

On the smuggling of cocoa to neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire, the minister said that the government, through COCBOD, was spending a month to patrol the border to curb such menace activity.

The minister said that the Minister for Mines had tasked the mines department to identify and map out areas suitable for "galamsey" so that the boys could operate as small-scale miners.

Roads in the region had seen some improvement: the Takoradi- Agona road which was sponsored by the Danish government at a cost of US$20 million and a GOG counterpart funding ?30 billion is near completion, was an important example, he said.

On the way forward, the minister opined that they would focus on literacy, strong industrial drive, export trade and public sector discipline.

The minister said that Sefwi Wiawso and Bebiani would soon benefit from the Ghana Telecom services.

Source: Chronicle