The Government of Ghana, in collaboration with the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Department of Feeder Roads, yesterday, signed the first phase of contracts under the Cocoa Roads Improvement Project (CRIP) in Accra.
Under the first phase of the project, 205km of roads are expected to be constructed in the six cocoa growing regions namely Western, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Central and Volta at an estimated contract sum of GH 25.2m.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Hon. Kwadwo Baah Wiredu noted that the project when completed, would facilitate the efficiency of cocoa evacuation in the cocoa producing areas as well as the movement of people and food crops in those areas.
The project, the Minister added, would not only benefit farmers but 'most players in the industry especially the hauliers and Licenced and Buying Companies in terms of their recycling rate and funds turn over.
Hon. Kwadwo Baah Wiredu re-iterated government's commitment in supporting the cocoa industry to ensure its enormous contribution to the general economy of the country in terms of GDP growth, foreign exchange earnings and poverty reduction.
The Finance and Economic Planning Minister re-countered government policy initiatives in the cocoa industry over the last few years which included remunerative producer prices and payment of bonuses, increased value addition to cocoa, effective diseases and pest control exercise and sustained scholarships to over 7,500 wards of cocoa farmers among others. He added that 'these initiatives have impacted positively on the ordinary cocoa farmer and the economy in general.'
In his remarks, the Hon. Minister of State at the Ministry of Transportation, Mr Godfrey Bayon Tangu, explained that the programme would be implemented in three phases between 2008 and 2010 and will see the construction of 25.4km road in Volta, 54.5km in Central, 54.1 in Eastern, 222.5km in Western, 152.7km in Ashanti and 92.3km in Brong Ahafo farming communities.
The Transportation Minister assured the successful contractors of the needed funds for the project and appealed for quality work within the stipulated contract duration and adhere to the specification as contained in the contract document.
The Chairman of Ghana Cocoa Board, Mr Isaac Osei, was hopeful that the construction of the 'cocoa roads' would go a long way in reducing transportation cost and the drudgery associated with rural hype of cocoa.