Dr. Minta Nyarku exposes government's claim of constructing 145 Astro Turfs in Ghana

Politics Dr. Minta Nyarku exposes government's claim of constructing 145 Astro Turfs in Ghana

Dr. Kwamena Minta Nyarku, Member of Parliament for Cape Coast North Constituency and a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture has challenged government's claim of constructing 145 Astro Turfs across the country.

He described such a statement as untrue.
Speaking on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday, 28th November 2023 during the 2024 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, Dr. Nyarku challenged the claims by Deputy Sports Minister and Hon. Collins Adomako Mensah who claimed that as of the end of December 2022, NPP government constructed and completed 145 astro turfs.

Proving his point on the floor, the Cape Coast North MP recounted that, on August 1, 2023, the National Sports Authority had a meeting with the Youth and Sports Committee of Parliament.

"At that meeting, the National Sport Authority presented a document which indicated that the available data on astroturf pitches as of July 2023 was 112. Out of that number, only 65 had been completed," he emphasised.

He added that in the same document, out of the 65 completed, the remaining 47 were still ongoing and are at various stages of completion. "Mr. Speaker, respectfully, how can the Deputy Sports Minister come to this honourable house to make such claims when the facts don't support the same? "he quizzed.

Dr. Minta Nyarku argued that from the facts available to him and from the posturing of the government, "It appears the government's own policy promise of building an astro turf in each constituency is dimming" indicating that "if 65 have been completed and 47 are at various stages of completion, then, it is safe to surmise that the prospects of the remaining constituencies benefiting from this policy are highly unlikely and/or infinitesimal."

Another claim that the Member of Parliament sought to debunk was the fact that all sporting facilities being put out by the government were meeting international standards. Dr. Minta Nyarku submitted on the floor that "the Borteyman Boxing Complex is noted as not meeting the international Boxing Association standards. Again, a letter dated October 30, 2023, from CAF and sent to the Ghana Football Association stated that the Cape Coast Sports Stadium doesn't meet international standards and requires an upgrade. In the letter, it was stated that based on the inspection report, "we regret to inform you that the stadium does not meet the set CAF stadium minimum requirements to host CAF senior international matches". I've all the documents here, and I can tender after my submissions."

The Cape Coast North Member of Parliament, therefore, put it before the Deputy Minister of Sports that his claims on the number of astro turfs and the sporting facilities meeting international standards are false.

Continuing with the debate, the MP also hinted that "paragraph 957 of the 2021 budget statement made mention of the establishment of the Sports Fund. The aim of the Fund is to help promote sustainable sports development and address financial challenges. Conspicuously, the establishment of the Sports Fund has been omitted in 2022, 2023, and 2024 budget statements. Does it mean that this NPP government is no longer interested in the establishment of a sports fund?"

According to the MP, another area of concern is the promise to organise inter-district sports competitions and the Ghana National Games to unearth new talents for the various national teams. He claims that this policy promise was in the 2020 budget; omitted in the 2021 budget; reintroduced in the 2022; omitted in the 2023 budget and has resurfaced in the 2024 budget statement. "These inconsistencies show that the government is only paying lip service," he intimated.

To support his claims, he hinted that school sports in basic schools, second cycle schools, and colleges have been halted due to non-payment of capitation grants to the Districts and Regions. "Schools and colleges are to stage a national competition in the western region. However, the programme is on hold due to the government's failure to release funds," he stressed.

The MP also hinted that in the budget statement of the year 2020, in paragraph 985, page 178, there was a key promise to ensure that Legal Instruments (LIs) to very key laws establishing the agencies that is Sports Act 2016 (Act 934) and the Youth Act 2016 (Act 939) would have been done and possibly find its way to parliament. "This key promise was omitted in the 2021 and 2022 budget statements; captured in the 2023 budget; and omitted in 2024 budget statement which is rather unfortunate," he stated.

Regarding the construction of facilities for the African Games to be hosted in Accra, the MP hinted that barely four months to the event, many of the facilities are still not ready even for the test run.

"Team Ghana is yet to get into residential camping, and the government is yet to release funds to all participating federations to kick start some form of preparations. Is Ghana really prepared for the Games? That notwithstanding, I wish Team Ghana the best of luck," he emphasised.

DC Kwame Kwakye
DC Kwame Kwakye

Broadcast JournalistPage: DCKwameKwakye

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