Koforidua, Jan. 18, GNA - The acting Minister of Roads and Transport, Dr Richard Anane, has said since rural development would be one of the major areas of focus of the Kufuor administration in its new mandate, it would ensure that as many rural communities as possible were linked with all-weather roads to facilitate movement of people and services.
The assurance was contained in an address read on his behalf at the opening of a three-day Annual Management Seminar of the Department of Feeder Roads at Koforidua on Tuesday on the theme: "In search of effective and efficient feeder road maintenance".
It was being attended by about 120 participants made up of Area, District and Assistant Engineers and Quantity Surveyors from all the districts.
Dr Anane said road infrastructure played a crucial role in national development through the promotion of socio-economic activities, integration and wealth creation in rural areas.
He noted that the provision of basic access roads in recent times had lifted some rural communities from low levels of poverty and made it possible for them to access such social amenities such as potable water, schools, clinics, markets and services that had accelerated their economic activities.
Dr Anane said the Department of Feeder Roads controlled 32,600 kilometres of feeder road network and noted that the goal was to increase the length of the engineered feeder roads from 12,700 kilometres in 2001 to 24,000 as at the end of 2004 through the use of efficient and cost effective strategies.
The Minister noted that the Department's consultations with the District Assemblies and major stakeholders in the selection, prioritisation and design of feeder roads had been fruitful and urged them to intensify it to ensure ownership in which communities and the nation would derive maximum benefit.
He, however, urged the Department to be responsive to complaints and comments to its design standards from the public and ensure that the issues raised were promptly addressed.
The Director of the Department, Mr. Martin hMensa, (Eds correct) mentioned some of the activities undertaken over the past four years to improve the conditions of 32,600 kilometres as the construction of 62 bridges, tarring of town roads and rehabilitation of feeder roads.
He said the focus of the Department this year was to ensure that all engineered roads were well maintained to reduce road roughness and curb their deterioration to ensure that they were motorable during the wet seasons.
Mr hMensa said the Department would target 150 kilometres of heavily trafficked roads this year, upgrade about 3,000 kilometres of unengineered roads through the provision of critical culverts, sectional gravelling and the construction of bridges to provide some communities access to facilities at district capitals.
He announced that negotiations have been completed for steel bridge components for 109 water crossing points on selected feeder roads in the country and urged the government to release funds from the HIPC Benefit Funds for the installation of bridges in the next three years.
On the flooding of some cities and towns, Mr hMensa proposed to the Ministry of Roads and Transport to liaise with stakeholders in town planning such as Ministries of Works and Housing and Local Government and Rural Development and the Town and Country Planning Department to initiate action for appropriate measures to address the problem.
The Eastern Regional Co-ordinating Director, Mr Sylvester Manu, who chaired the function, urged the participants to use the seminar to evolve strategies that would help promote effective and efficient discharge of their jobs towards national development.