Busua (W/R) March 24, - GNA - The Minister for Roads and Transport, Dr Richard Anane has said the Government was formulating a national transport policy that would guide future investments and programmes of the sector.
He said this would provide the framework and guidelines for the preparation of a 10-year transportation master plan for the country. Dr Anane said the Master Plan would ensure long-term intervention and assistance from the country's development partners.
The minister was opening the 2004 donors conference of the road sector development programme at Busua near Takoradi on Tuesday on the theme: "Transport and its impact on poverty reduction".
About 200 delegates, representing 25 government ministries, departments and institutions and 20 foreign development partners were attending the conference.
The conference would review the status of implementation of the Road Sector Development Programme (RSDP), the road network condition for 2002 and 2003, procurement, financial and technical audit of the RSDP expenditure in 2002 and 2003. Participants would also discuss the road sector strategic plan 2004-2008 with specific focus on the 2004 programme and budget of the RSDP.
Dr Anane said the 10-year Master Plan would evolve institutional reforms to address management and operational issues in a holistic manner.
He announced that, as at the end of 2003, a total of 674 kilometres of trunk road reconstruction projects had been awarded on contract and funding had also been secured for 243 kilometres of roads on which work was expected to begin this year and 2005.
Dr. Anane said, the country's corridors had to bear the brunt of unanticipated diverted cargo transit from the ports to landlocked neighbouring countries in the West African sub-region and this had contributed to the rapid deterioration of some major roads. As a result, funding requirements for the maintenance of these transit corridors have escalated, the minister said, adding, "The Almaty Declaration of 2003 however, enjoins Ghana to provide transit corridors for our landlocked developing neighbours".
He said his ministry has identified the low capacity of local contractors in terms of equipment holding and personnel as part of their teething problems and the government was addressing these problems. The ministry has initiated a cross-sectoral collaboration for a regularised training of mid-level manpower from the Polytechnics to reverse the personnel manpower supply problems.
Mr Anane said the on-going study on road concession would help to evaluate the country's capacity within the context of the legal and financial regulations to attract private sector funds for road infrastructure development.
He cautioned the consultants not to dwell on the country's HIPC status to make adverse recommendation.
Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, commended the European Union and other development partners for their immense contribution towards the improvement of roads in the country, especially in the region.
He however, said, more should be done to open up the region, which, according to him was endowed with human and natural resources. Mr Aidoo said: "Until the government is well supported to tackle the road problem in its entirety, little would be gained in our collective efforts at poverty reduction".
He said despite the region's mineral deposits, its virgin forests, agricultural production and human resources making it one of the biggest contributors to national development it has some of the worst roads".
Mr Zhang Keyuan, Chinese ambassador in Ghana on behalf of the country's development partners expressed his appreciation to the government of Ghana for giving priority to the road sector development as part of the strategy to reduce poverty among the people. He said underdeveloped infrastructure is and obstacle to Africa's development and pledged his country's continued support to Ghana to enhance growth and poverty reduction.
Participants would inspect some ongoing road projects including the Asankrangwua-Enchi and the Agona-Junction-Tarkwa roads. 24 March 04