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13.03.2005 Regional News

Upper East moves to evacuate displaced persons from Kumasi

By GNA

Bolgatanga, March 13, GNA - More than 200 people from the Upper East Region resident in Kumasi have been displaced as a result of the recent reorganisation exercise at the Kumasi Race Course by the Metropolitan Assembly. Following a plea from the stranded persons, the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) in Bolgatanga has put into motion a plan to convey them home. To this end, each of the eight district assemblies in the region has contributed five million cedis, which would be used to hire buses for the evacuation exercise.

The plan was discussed at a meeting between the Regional Minister, Mr. Boniface Gambila, and the region's District Chief Executives (DCEs) in Bolgatanga at the weekend. The Regional Minister said he had been in touch with his counterpart in the Ashanti regional capital, as well as some of the affected persons by phone, and that at least five large buses would be required for the job.

Mr. Gambila said arrangements were almost complete for the evacuation to begin on Monday, March 14, 2005. Discussions on the Kumasi situation brought to the fore the issue of poor distribution of rainfall in the Upper East, and the resultant precarious food situation in the region. Without exception, all parties at the meeting unanimously identified the prevailing unfavourable climatic conditions in the region as the dominant cause of migration, particularly during the long dry season. "So long as we continue to have three months of erratic rains and nine months of sunshine this problem will remain with us," the Regional Minister noted." He urged DCEs to make the provision of small-scale dams in the rural communities one of their priority developmental objectives.

The DCEs attributed the problem to the work of incompetent and ill-equipped local contractors who took dam projects but failed to execute those projects. Almost all the DCEs present had an instance to cite about dams in their districts abandoned by contractors who lacked the requisite equipment for such projects.

Mr. Abdul-Rahman Gumah, Bawku East Municipal Chief Executive, intimated that a Chinese international construction company that had been contracted to drill 50 boreholes in his district had executed the job satisfactorily. He suggested, therefore, that in future all dam projects in the region be awarded to capable international firms, an idea that won the support of his colleagues.

The DCEs expressed displeasure about the trend by which projects in their districts are awarded by influential officials from Accra to unknown contractors without their knowledge, and appealed to the Regional Minister to take up the issue with the relevant authorities. Mr. Gambila called for co-ordination and teamwork among DCEs in the region, and urged them to streamline the assistance given by their respective assemblies to students from the region attending tertiary institutions in other parts of the country.

It was also proposed that district assemblies in the region and the RCC would pool resources in consultation with the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, to work out a plan to put up hostels on university campuses across the country to ease accommodation problems confronting students from the Upper East Region. The DCEs pledged their full co-operation and support for the new Regional Minister in his efforts to promote peace and development in the region. They also agreed to revive the monthly meetings between DCEs and the Regional Minister, which were previously held on rotational basis but have ceased for sometime now, because in their view those meetings provided an ideal forum for comparing notes and brainstorming for solutions to problems confronting the people of the region.

Also present at the meeting were Mr. Francis Afoko, Member of Council of State and Colonel George Minyilla (Rtd), Ghana's Ambassador to Burkina Faso.

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