President J.A. Kufuor on Thursday cut the sod for the construction of a 122-metre bridge over the White Volta at Kpasenkpe in the West Mamprusi District to open up the area often referred to as "the overseas".
The project forms part of a 10.8 million euro Northern Bridges Project funded jointly by the Government of Ghana and the Agence Francaise de Developpment (AFD) of France.
Under this Project, five major bridges in the Northern and Upper East Regions would be constructed.
The successful completion of the White Volta Bridge would effectively put to an end the situation where the West Mamprusi District for most part of the year, is virtually divided, with people living beyond the river forced to relate more to the Upper East and thus denying the assembly of the needed revenue for development.
President Kufuor noted that apart from the tremendous economic benefits, the Project would also help to prevent the frequent loss of lives through the use of dangerous canoes.
He drew attention to the need and urgency to deliver the Project within time, specifications and budget.
President Kufuor therefore asked the Ministry of Transportation, the Consultants and the Chinese contractors, China Jiangvi Corporation to make sure that the work was scrupulously done.
He expressed appreciation to France for its continued support for Ghana's socio-economic development, saying that it was his expectation that the bond of cooperation between the two countries would be deepened in the years ahead.
The Deputy Minister of Transportation, Mr Magnus Opare-Asamoah said the Northern Ghana Bridges Project formed a major component of the Department of Feeder Roads Bridge Development Programme, under which 1,200 water crossing points had been identified and 120 of them have had bridges constructed over them.
He said two of the major bridges which were of immense national socio-economic importance, were the White Volta crossing at Kpasenkpe and River Daka crossing at Ekumdi, near Kpandai in the East Gonja District.
He said there were other minor bridges over River Naa Nori on the Gambaga-Tomboko road in the East Mamprusi District; River Abierre on the Zokko-Manyaro road and River Zebilla on the Zebilla-Zabre road, both in the Upper East Region.
Mr. Opare-Asamoah emphasised the Government's commitment to ensuring the early completion of all projects nationwide to enable it to achieve its objective of enhancing the living standards of the people.
Mr Pierre Jacquemot, France Ambassador in Ghana, said France through the AFD was supporting Ghana within the framework of the country's road sector development programme and in line with the Growth and Poverty-Reduction Strategy.
He said on a cumulative basis, France had committed more than 400 billion cedis to support the development of the three Northern Regions.
Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, Northern Regional Minister commended the Government for the development projects it had undertaken in the three Northern Regions and mentioned in particular, the numerous construction works currently going on in the campuses of the University for Development Studies (UDS) at Nyankpala and Navrongo.
He however appealed to the Government to construct similar bridges over the Tatchli River in the West Gonja District and the Yala River in the East Gonja District to link the people of the two districts to those in the Central Gonja District.
The Wulugu-Naba, Professor John Nabila commended the Government for fulfilling its promise to construct the bridge over the White Volta, saying: "It is a dream come true and we the people of West Mamprusi will ever remain grateful for it."
He said the construction of the bridge would facilitate access to fertile agricultural lands; provide employment for the youth and open up investment opportunities for investors in agriculture.