Koforidua, June 15 GNA - The Eastern Regional Minister, Dr Francis Osafo-Mensah has urged people in the region to resort to peaceful resolution of disputes in resolving any differences among them in order to consolidate the growth of the economy and democratic governance. He reminded them that the region was playing a significant role in contributing to the strenghtening of democracy and economic progress, which required the need to sustain the prevailing peace and order. The call was contained in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Regional Minister, Mr Gustav Narh Dometey at the first meeting of the Eastern Regional Co-ordinating Council (ERCC) at Koforidua on Tuesday. It was attended by District Chief Executives, Presiding Members, two representatives of the Regional House of Chiefs and heads of departments.
He expressed concern about the numerous chieftaincy and land disputes in the region and noted that, "even though some of these disputes seen to be dormant, there are few which are quite volatile and could easily erupt to destabilize the status quo.
He appealed for the withdrawal of chieftaincy cases from the courts to be resolved by Alternative Dispute Resolution, among others. Dr Osafo-Mensah said the Regional Security Council(REGSEC) and the District Security Committees(DISECs), in collaboration with the security agencies, have been able to ensure that peace, law and order are maintained in the region to enable the people to carry out their business activities without hindrances.
The security agencies were doing their best to control the activities of the armed robbers in the region due to the dangers they pose to the people, he said, adding that although the crime wave in the region had reduced, district assemblies should continue to give logistics support to the police and military patrol teams, while the public also provide information and tip-offs to the police to enable them to track down on criminals.
On development projects, Dr Osafo Mensah said the region continues to receive its due share of the national cake in terms of infrastructural development since there were many completed and on-going projects in all sectors of the economy.
Dr Osafo Mensah said under the trunk roads sector, a total number of 304.7 kilometres of roads were currently under construction, out of which 118.3 kilometers have been duly completed.
0n the feeder roads, he said, 2,579.5 kilometres are being improved at the cost of 149.2 billion cedis, while 21.5 kilometres of urban roads were being rehabilitated at a cost of 36.4 billion cedis, with the grading of 84 kilometers of various other roads being carried out at the cost of 446 billion cedis.
On energy, Dr Osafo Mensah said, provision of electricity to 11 towns in eight districts had been completed, while under the Self-Help Electrification Programmee (SHEP) Phase 1, 22 towns in five districts are currently benefiting from the scheme.
0n education, he said, with the support of donor agencies, rehabilitation of old school blocks and the construction of new ones are in progress alongside the provision of furniture, teaching and learning materials.
The Minister said three Senior Seconday Schools in the region, namely, New Abirem Secondary, Oda Secondary and Oyoko Methodist Secondary Schools are beneficiaries of government's model school programme at a total cost of 48 billion cedis.
He said an amount of 2.3 billion cedis had been earmarked this year for the improvement of access/coverage of telecommunication facilities in the region.
Dr Osafo-Mensah commended the District Assemblies for their satisfactory utilisation and the disbursement of the Common Fund, GETFund and the HIPC Fund for the benefit of their communities He, however, advised the Assemblies to engage only competent consultants and contractors to execute their projects to ensure good quality and value for money work output.
Dr Osafo Mensah said the region is one of the six regions viable for large scale oil palm plantation under the President's Special Initiative(PSI), adding that, under the programme, three communities in the Kwaebibirim District namely, Kusi, Damang and Okyesu, have nursed over 3,000 out of the targeted two million seedlings for transplanting. He announced that the Council had mobilised all the 15 districts in the region to form the Densu Starch Company Limited, which had been registered, adding that all the assemblies would contribute 50 million cedis each per quarter to represent seed money for the company. He, therefore, urged assemblies which have not yet paid their arrears of first quarter and the second quarter contributions to do so without delay.
The Minister appealed to the people to ensure that the forthcoming elections were conducted peacefully, devoid of violence and intimidations.
Mr. Kojo Darko Anyane Yeboah, Information Communication Technology(ICT) Specialist of the National Identification Authority(NIA), who briefed the Council on its set-up and objectives, explained that the NIA would, among others, collect personal data on all citizens, produce and distribute national ID cards, facilitate integration of all public civil operations and provide identification services.
He said the National Identification Scheme(NIS) would improve public service delivery based on accurate information, provide a secured basis for social facilities such as the National Health Insurance Scheme, employment services, improve public safety and community security and provide more reliable population census data and information for national development.
.. According to him, the NIS would embark on a nation-wide educational programmes to create awareness among the people for its smooth implementation. June 15, 04