The Minister of State at the Ministry of Transportation, Godfred Bayon Tangu has noted that Accra, the administrative and commercial capital of Ghana has a population of about 3 million and growing at about 4% per annum, while Kumasi, the second largest city has a population of about 1.5 million and growing at 5%. This implies that Accra's population would double in about 16 years and that of Kumasi in 12 years.
The population densities have made it difficult for the managers of our Metropolitan and Municipal areas and indeed our major urban areas to meet the service demands of the residents.
In an attempt to address the above problems, the Ghana Urban Transport Project (UTP) has been initiated by the Government in conjunction with some of her Development Partners to achieve the vision of an affordable, safe and efficient road transport system that supports the overall development and competitiveness of the urban areas.
The project, which would cost US$95million, has five main components namely, Institutional Development, Traffic Management, Pilot Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System and Operations, Integration with Urban Development, Monitoring and Evaluation.
This will bring about a regulatory regime for the provision of urban passenger transport services, which will lead to improved service delivery. The Minister noted that the project was multi sectored, which required collaboration between existing stakeholders during the project preparation stage throughout its implementation.
Prof. G. Gyan Baffour, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning said the Urban Transport Project (UTP) aimed at introducing bus transit facilities for Accra and later Kumasi to reduce time spent in traffic disclosed that the second growth and poverty reduction strategy (GPRS II) was a the tool for Government's growth agenda and it was driven by the desire to reach a middle income status by 2015.
He said to achieve middle income status by 2015 however required investments in key areas that would stimulate economic growth, private sector development, a major pillar of the country's growth agenda, predicated on the provision of road and other growth related infrastructure.
He emphasized that this was intended to stimulate private sector activity and generate the desired multiplier effect and that with this in mind Government was committed to filling the infrastructural gaps in the economy as well as removing structural constraints at the policy and institutional levels.
Prof Gyan Baffour said the project sought to improve mobility in urban centres and promote a shift to a more environmentally sustainable urban transport mode and reduce urban transport-related greenhouse gas emissions along the piloted Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors in Accra and Kumasi.
Mr. Gyan Baffour was of the view that these actions would inevitably provide an efficient transport system that will cut down the hassle suffered by travellers and reduce travel time and increase the time used by citizens for productive activities to boost the economy.
He said this project was aimed at an integrated efficient, cost-effective and sustainable transportation system responsive to the needs of society, supporting growth and poverty reduction and maintaining Ghana as a transportation hub of West Africa for the period 2008-2012.
Explaining further, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning noted that the Abidjan-Lagos transport and transit facility project to be implemented by five countries namely Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin and Nigeria would commence in 2008 and would reduce transportation cost and transit across the 5 countries in order to increase the competitiveness of goods produced in West Africa and facilitate distribution in regional and international markets.
An overview of the project presented by Mr. Ludwig-Hisse indicated how Accra had grown in population for the past fifteen years and how Accra and Kumasi would double in less than twenty years.
Its main objectives seek to improve mobility in the areas of the participating MMDAs (Accra and Kumasi) and promote a shift to a more environmentally-sustainable urban transport mode and encourage lower urban transport-related greenhouse gas emissions along the pilot BRT corridor in Accra.