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10.02.2006 Regional News

Funds ready to begin Tamale Water project next month

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Accra, Feb. 10, GNA - Government on Friday said it had secured 45 million euros to begin the Tamale Water Project next month and dismissed claims that it was stalling the project.

Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, said it was wrong for anyone to suggest that the Government was not interested in fast tracking the project because the people of Tamale did not vote for the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

"There has been no dragging of feet as far as the water project in Tamale is concerned, therefore, for three Northern Regional National Democratic Congress Members of Parliament (MPs) to say so, is malicious and most unfortunate," he said. Mr Owusu-Agyeman made these remarks when the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu and Mr Arie C.A. Van der Wiel, the Netherlands Ambassador, signed the 45 million-euro agreement for the Project. The Netherlands Government is providing a grant of 23.75 million euros towards the project, while the remaining amount of 21.25 million euro would be borne by Ghana through a loan provided by a Dutch bank.

Mr Owusu-Agyeman said in just a matter of two months after Cabinet and Parliament approved the project, the funds agreement had been signed, commenting: "It is not the case for anyone to say that Government has not given the best to the people of Tamale." He said prior to the completion of the Project in 2008, the Government was providing boreholes to mitigate the problem in the Region.

Giving an overview of the water situation in the area, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Finance Minister, said whilst the peak water demand was currently 53,000 cubic meters per day, the existing facilities could only produce and treat 15,900 cubic meters per day.

He said the expansion project in Tamale would include the construction of a water treatment plant at Dalun and a water storage compound at Kukuo Yepalsi.

When completed, the project would have an installed capacity to produce 61,000 cubic meters of water per day, which he noted would be enough to meet the projected demands in the area to year 2020 and beyond.

Mr Van der Wiel said the signing had come at a momentous time since the project had been long-awaited and the people of Tamale would heave a big sigh of relief.

The project would be financed under the Netherlands Government under the ORET Programme, a facility that combines grants with commercial loans to fund capital goods and engineering services, he noted. Mr Van der Wiel noted that because of the seriousness of the water crisis, recent newspaper reports had cautioned that potential investors were being forced out of Tamale.

He said the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Schweppes and other companies such as aluminium, plastic and steel ones, which were considering establishing in Tamale, had all withdrawn due to the severe water problem. 10 Feb. 06