Bolgatanga, March 18, GNA - The first two batches of 140 out of about 230 displaced persons of Upper East origin who were stranded in Kumasi have arrived in Bolgatanga, as a special operation by the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) to evacuate them got underway. The victims, dislodged from the Kumasi Race Course following a decongestion exercise by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), hail from various parts of the region including Zuarungu, Tongo, Gambibgo, Vea, Mirigu, Bongo, Winkogo, Nyariga and Zaare.
On arrival on Friday morning, the Regional Minister, Mr. Boniface Gambila, Mr Rockson Bukari, Acting Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive and Mr Mahama Mahmoud, the Regional Organiser of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) met them at the forecourt of the RCC.
Mr Gambila asked the returnees to disregard rumours that their eviction was part of government policy to repatriate all natives of the Upper East Region who are resident in Kumasi.
"Such misinformation is only a ploy by some mischievous elements to give this event a political twist," he said.
The Regional Minister said if it were a repatriation programme, their kinsmen who currently reside comfortably in Kumasi and its environs would have also been evicted.
He explained that the exercise at the Race Course was part of efforts by the KMA to restore order and to beautify the Garden City.
Mr Gambila urged the returnees to put this chapter of their lives behind them and settle down to rebuild their future. He said there are lots of opportunities at the Vea and Tono irrigation facilities where they could undertake vegetable cultivation on a commercial scale to earn a descent living.
Mr Bukari urged the returnees to form co-operative groups to enable the assembly to assist them to undertake basket weaving, vegetable cultivation or any other economic activity of their choice. Two spokesmen for the evacuees, Dominic Azumah and Stephen Dong, expressed gratitude to the Regional Minister for his personal intervention to ameliorate their situation.
They said but for the free transport provided, most of the stranded persons could not have afforded the lorry fare back home. The spokesmen said with the absence of job opportunities and irrigation facilities in the Upper East Region, it would only be a matter of time before a vast majority of the returnees found their way back to Kumasi in search of jobs, especially during the long dry season.