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11.10.2005 General News

Capital City's transportation system to be upgraded

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Accra Oct. 11, GNA - Important roles of the Capital City Managers include upgrading, maintaining and operating an efficient transportation system, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City said on Tuesday.

He said transportation played a big role in how people lived, worked and played, hence the need for a master plan to address various transportation problems faced in the capital city.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, who was speaking at the "Meet the Press" series organized by the Ministry of Information, said a key goal of the transportation master plan was how to decrease the number of trips made by a car and to find ways to transport goods economically.

He explained that the creation of the Modernization of the Capital City portfolio would ensure well structured, well resourced and maintained city with proper zoning, appropriate social amenities, decent public places of convenience, world class hotels, mass transit system, good parking facilities, places of interest and of historical value. He said the Ministry in collaboration with other ministries was encouraging new developments to design roadways that would contribute to making the neighbourhood safe, clean, transit and pedestrian friendly. The sector would also develop and implement technologies and traffic management schemes to reduce travel times and delays, thereby reducing vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.

The vision of the Modernization portfolio, the Minister said, was to create a 21st century city comparable to other cities in the world. Speaking about the formation of the National Capital Territory Planning Committee (NCTPC), recently set up by President John Agyekum Kufuor, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said the committee would develop long-term development plans and projects to enhance the Capital City's extraordinary historical, cultural and natural resources. "NCTPC will be planning for the next century, as well as for the next year but work to deliver from today, subject to the availability of appropriate resources," he said.

The Minister mentioned huge population as a major challenge the portfolio faced and said one of the symptoms of unplanned population drift was the growth of squatter settlements.

"The challenge here is how to manage such a huge population which is still growing at a phenomenal rate within the existing constraints especially the constraints of management capacity," he said. Scarcity and mismanagement of land, he said, was another problem the Capital City faced, saying, "land is a scarce resource and the situation only gets worse".

The menace of containers, kiosks and the generality of unauthorized structures suggested that to be norm rather than the laid down procedures of development, the Minister said.

The environmental and sanitation problems, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said were numerous and deep rooted as the beaches, which would normally, be a resource for the tourism industry and economic backbone for a majority of indigenes, were all seriously polluted.

The Minister said modernization of the Capital City was a unique city building campaign that would guide the NCTPC decision makers towards a new official plan.

"Planning a city is like planning a garden. You begin with a vision of the end product- what it will feel like to stand in the garden when you are is important not to get lost in the means and lose sight of the end."