Ho, Feb. 17, GNA - An estimated 12,000 people countrywide have secured permanent jobs under the government's Plantation Development Programme (PDP) started in mid-2003, as a Presidential Special Initiative (PSI). The Programme, which gave direct jobs to 700 people in the Volta Region, was funded from the HIPC Funds, at a cost of 190 billion cedis. Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines made this known when he handed over the management of the 150-hectare Urban Forest component of the programme in the Ho Municipality to the Ho Municipal Assembly in Ho on Thursday.
He observed that the programme has also created several indirect jobs in the municipality for many pay-phone operators, who operate conveniently under the trees provided.
The Urban Forest Component involved the planting of trees along major approaches to the municipality including, open-spaces with a view to enhancing scenic beauty and also providing shade. Professor Fobih said with the handing over to the Municipal Assembly, some of the 48 workers engaged to maintain and protect the trees would be deployed on the forest plantations, being developed in the region under the same programme, if they so wished.
He assured that those to be retained to take care of the trees in the municipality would continue to receive their salaries from the Ministry and not from the Municipal Assembly.
Professor Fobih hinted that the Forest Plantations, which were developed under the programme, would in future serve as guarantee for securing funding outside the HIPC funds for further expansion with prospects for generating further employment in the sector.
He praised the workers for maintaining the trees into maturity and urged them to educate the public to appreciate the need for collectively protecting them as it was in their interest to do so.
The Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Mawutor Goh, who conducted the Minister and his team round some of the project areas, said the project had coincided with the beautification programme currently taking place in the municipality.
He assured the Minister that the Assembly had therefore identified itself with the project and would deploy the necessary resources to maintaining and expanding it further.
Mr Goh said efforts would be made to educate the public to appreciate the aesthetic value of the trees, their importance in purifying the air in the municipality protection of pedestrians from the scorching sun, in addition to being places of rest and relaxation.
The workers on their part expressed worry about problems related to their social security contributions and appealed to the Minister to help in that direction.
They also appealed for bicycles on hire-purchase basis to facilitate their movement round the municipality to maintain the trees. 17 Feb. 06