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06.07.2005 Regional News

Upper West roads in a bad state - Salia

News Upper West roads in a bad state - Salia

Accra, July 06, GNA - Mr Edward Salia, NDC MP for Jirapa, on Wednesday called for an improvement of the road network in the Upper West Region to facilitate and accelerate the development of the area. He said the region had been neglected and discriminated against in the area of road construction and called for fairness and equity in the sharing of national resources.

Mr. Salia said this in a statement to the House on the state of access roads within the Upper West Region.

He said if the nation would move forward, the government needed to sit up and take stock and account of regional effects of policies and programmes as they often impact differently on the different regions. "Without an improvement in the road infrastructure, which will lead to improved transportation, the Upper West Region will remain in tattered penury, firmly anchored at the bottom of the nation's development league and regrettably continue to be a heavy drag on the national development effort."

"Roads are a major input in the production and distribution of virtually every commodity and service be it agriculture, manufacturing, education, health, tourism, governance and public administration." Mr Salia said the under development, poverty and misery of the Upper West Region could largely be attributed to the perennial lack of access to and within the region.

Mr Salia said the region is the only one that is not linked to any neighbouring regional capital with an all-weather tarred trunk road. He said between 1992 and 2000 considerable effort was made to improve road infrastructure throughout the country, and the Upper West Region for the first time in history benefited from the largesse of central government.

"Unfortunately since 2001 the region has not seen much progress on the highway front, as some of these projects were stopped with all manner of reasons immediately after the change of government." Mr Salia said the Wa- Jirapa- Hamile road project linking Ghana to Burkina Faso, which is about 60 per cent complete, has been stopped because no funds were allocated for its continuation.

He said a lot more effort should be quickly put into improving the roads along the corridor in the region as Ghana's neighbours have rehabilitated their link roads to Tumu and Hamile both in the Upper West Region to facilitate movement into Ghana.

Mr Salia said the net effect of the bad road infrastructure is that passenger services are very poor and during the rainy season, they often suspend their services for several weeks.

"The Metro Mass Transport buses are considered to be too good for travellers in the Upper West, so they have not yet been allocated to ply there.''

"This is in sharp contrast to only a few years ago when the three state bus companies all plied Upper West routes with services to and from Obuasi, Accra, Kumasi, and Bolgatanga whilst there were services available from Tamale to Wa, Tumu and Hamile."

Mr Salia said with better roads the Upper West Region's poverty would be reduced through improved agriculture, better access to health, education and other social services as well as attracting tourism, foreign and local investments in the region's economy.

Contributing to the statement, Dr. Konadu Apraku, Minister of Regional Co-operation and NEPAD, said a lot would have to be done on road construction in the Upper West Region and called for an extensive road network project for the development of the area.

He said there was the need for peace and stability in the area so that all energies would be geared towards development.

Mr John Mahama, NDC MP for Bole-Bamboi said the Jirapa-Bole-Bamboi-Hamile road was terminated in 2001 with only 35 out of the 135 kilometres constructed with the excuse that the contract would be reviewed.

He said due to the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire most cargo trucks now use Ghana to Burkina Faso and Mali and the road network in the Upper West Region needs to be improved.

Papa Owusu Ankomah, Minister of the Interior, conceded that the road networks in the Upper West Region are in a very bad state. He said it is very necessary to improve the roads in the boarder towns in the country and that the government would ensure before the end of its term the Bole-Bamboi-Jirapa roads would get the necessary attention.

He urged Members of Parliament from that region to ensure peace and stability so that investors can be encouraged to invest in the area. Mr Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader, said until 2001 most of the roads in the Upper West Region were under construction but since then only five kilometres of the road network had been made motorable and this is of great concern to the people.

He said for the government to remove the perception that because the region did not vote for the NPP it was suffering such neglect, it must embark on a serious road development in the area to erase the erroneous impression. 06 July 05