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26.07.2005 General News

Government to construct 36 Dams -Veep

Government to construct 36 Dams  -Veep

Bolgatanaga, July 26, GNA - Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama on Monday announced Government's plan to provide 36 dams for the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions to promote all-year-round agricultural production.

To this end, part of a 60-million-dollar credit facility contracted by Government would be committed to the project, which would span the next three years.

He said the dams would offer beneficiary communities an opportunity to do off-season farming, during the eight-month dry season to stem the tide of youth migration to the southern part of the country. Alhaji Mahama, who is currently on a working tour of the Upper East Region, announced this at the opening session of a five-day training course for irrigation infrastructure contractors in Bolgatanga. It was organised by the Ghana Irrigation Authority and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

The workshop would take participants through topics including "Contractual Framework and Conditions of Contract", "Concept of Farmer Participation in Irrigation Development", "Estimation and Tendering Process", and "Equipment and Site Selection".

Alhaji Mahama told the participants that, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) was exploring possible means of equipping contractors in the three northern regions with the requisite machinery in view of the absence of plant pool facilities there.

He expressed dissatisfaction about the non-performance of dam contractors in the region, and said the trend was hampering government's efforts at irrigation development in the area.

"It is not everyone, who should venture into dam construction. If you do not have the equipment you better forget it, for you should not construct a dam only for it to collapse after the first rains", he said. He further indicated that dam construction was a capital-intensive business, and urged the contractors to enter into partnerships and to pool resources to execute dam projects to ensure good quality work and the longevity of the facility.

Alhaji Mahama, who is also a professional engineer, further asked the participants to invest their profits in the procurement of equipment and to be sincere with their banks in the repayment of credit facilities granted them.

Alhaji Mahama later inspected the Zebilla dam in the Bawku West District, which was constructed in 1960. It has an irrigable area of 20 hectares and serves farmers from Zebilla, Sakom and other neighbouring communities.

During a courtesy call on the chief of Zebilla, Naba Aboya Ndago II, the Vice President announced that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had released 60 million cedis to 10 farming groups in the area to procure bullocks for ploughing.

He said farmers in the area would also benefit from the next batch of the 1,000 tractors government had procured.

In response to a request by the chief for the upgrading of facilities at the Zebilla Senior Secondary School, the Vice President said the school had been listed among 25 selected institutions to benefit from the government's Model School project this year. At Nangodi in the Talensi-Nabdam District, he told the chief, Bag-Naba Kofi Azure, that the Department of Feeder Roads was taking inventory to improve on roads in the area.

Alhaji Mahama pledged five million cedis to visually impaired victims in the former Oncho-infested community, and directed the Regional Director of Agriculture, Mr Roy Ayariga, to provide them with a corn-mill to enable them to undertake income-generating activities.

Alhaji Mahama made a stop over at Zanlerigu, where he inspected a local dam, and interacted with the Zanlerigu Naba Daaka Nadaana and his people.

He also went on to Pwalugu, where he inspected a model maize farm cultivated along the White Volta basin by a 49-year-old Madam Teni Tia, Third National Best Farmer in 2003.

The purpose of the project is to demonstrate to the region's farming community that, with the help of water-pumps they could cultivate crops all-year-round, including the dry season, using the water from the White Volta for greater food security.

The Vice President was impressed with the prospects of the project, and promised to let the Department of Feeder Roads provide access roads to the area, which is presently difficult to reach by car.

Alhaji Mahama also inspected some projects being carried out under the government's Model School programme at the Bolgatanga Secondary School (Big BOSS). During an interaction with students of the school, he told them that with discipline and hard work, they could make it in life, and cautioned them against ethnic division and wanton destruction of school property.

Defying the fall of night, the Vice President wound up the long day with a visit to Tongo, capital of the Talensi-Nabdam District, where he pledged the provision of a number of social amenities by government to put the newly created district on its feet.