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12.09.2005 General News

Women participation in road construction very low


Accra, Sept 12, GNA - The Association of Road Contractors on Monday urged its members, especially women to excel in the construction industry so that their male counterparts would not discriminate against them on grounds of inefficiency.

"Women involved in construction, especially road construction are not many but are being marginalized as compared to their male counterparts and thus needed to develop the capacity of the few existing ones and open up opportunity for others to join the industry, Mr. Johannes Twumasi-Mensah, National Chairman of Association of Road Contractors ASROC) said in Accra.

" Women empowerment had not only gained global recognition, but it is also being pursued to give opportunities for women in all walks of life to develop and express their potentials in construction, education, finance, politics and other endeavours."

Mr. Twumasi-Mensah was speaking at a day's seminar for women in the construction industry under the theme; 'Challenges and Achievements,' organised by ASROC for its members. It was aimed at creating awareness, solicit views, and offer proposals, suggestions and comments towards strengthening and improving the industry. He said through such seminars Ghanaian contractors would be equipped with modern techniques and knowledge about the industry and construct good roads.

He appealed to the Ministry of Roads Transport to assist women contractors to enhance their business and also pleaded with members to participate in the association's activities at regional and national levels to derive the necessary benefits.

Mr. Twumasi-Mensah said the ASROC had prepared comprehensive rates and indices document by which the Ministry had reviewed upwards rates for construction materials.

He said the association had established relations with Amalgamated Bank to provide facilities to contractors at a crucial time when other banks refused to help because of delayed payments for contractors' certificates.

He said through ASROC the Ministry liberalised the issuing of performance bonds and bids Bonds instead of allowing the state insurance company to exercise monopoly over the bonds. Ms Maud Griffin, Executive Secretary of ASROC said the association was in collaboration with InWent, a German construction firm were conducting a search for Ghanaian contractors to form partnership with German contractors.

She said InWent had asked a percentage of serious female contractors as partners and "not those operating from their handbags", and that very soon applications will be sought from Managing Directors and young engineers to travel to Germany for training and to meet prospective partners.

She called for partnership with local and foreign contractors, adding that it was better for such partnerships to be legally binding so that both parties could play their roles effectively. Mr. Sapeh Nunoo of the Ministry of Roads and Transport said a study carried out in Kenya and Tanzania showed that, out of 50 per cent women interviewed, 10 per cent to 20 per cent of them were involved in road construction.

This, he noted, was attributed to priority given to demands of domestic activities, lack of information related to women, eligibility, scarcity of forewomen, lack of transport to project sites and lack of pilot projects with emphasis on women participation.

Mrs. Laura Gbedemah, a member of ASROC, said construction was a rough, tough and hard business where one was exposed to the duty and harshness of the environment and long hours spent make it difficult for women to combine multiple roles of earner, homemaker and mother. She said therefore that, to be a woman road constructor one would have to be an expert juggler to survive the "land mines" of the environment.

Ms Beatrix Allah, Social Development Specialist of the World Bank said a facility that would provide assistance to women involved in road construction existed at the WB and urged women to take advantage of the facility to improve their businesses. 12 Sept. 05