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08.03.2006 Business & Finance

Ghana, Belgium sign agreement for supply of buses

By GNA

Accra, March 8, GNA - The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning on Wednesday signed a concessionary loan agreement of 9.965 million euros with the Commerzbank AG. Belgium for the supply of 63 buses to augment the fleet of the Metro Mass Transit (MMT) Company Limited. The amount, which has both a commercial and a government stake, is made up of a 35 per cent grant from the Belgian government and the rest from the Commerzbank for the buses which would be assembled in that country.

The buses would arrive next year.

Deputy Minister, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, who signed for Ghana said the loan was interest free and had a grace period of one and a half years for repayment duration of 10 years.

Dr Osei said the government was grateful to Belgium for the assistance, which would help Ghana achieve its renewed policy on mass transport services to the people.

He said government was working to ensure that the policy would come into full swing with every part of the country benefiting from the programme.

Coverage of the MMT includes Accra Tema metropolitan area, Kumasi, Tamale, Sekondi Takoradi, Koforidua and Sunyani. The rest are Cape Coast, Agona Swedru, Ho and Wa. The service is to be extended to Bolgatanga soon.

So far, the MMT has about 800 buses and with a blend of both foreign and local management. The foreign experts are expected to transfer knowledge of management and maintenance of the buses to the local personnel by a maximum period of three years.

The government owns 45 per cent of the investment in the company, while the rest of the shares belong to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, the State Insurance Company, the Agriculture Development Bank, the National Investment Bank and the Ghana Oil Company Limited.

Dr Osei said Parliament was about to approve of another loan of 23.15 million euros with the Dutch Government for a fleet of 150 buses to be assembled in Ghana.

Mr Magnus Opare-Asamoah, Deputy Minister of Roads Transport, said the government hoped to achieve the objective of acquiring 1,400 buses to consolidate the operations of the MMT with the support of the bilateral partners.

He said the government had earlier received support from the Dutch Government for 100 buses, which were assembled in Ghana but expressed the hope that the targets would be achieved faster so as to assist in the movement of tourists during the golden jubilee celebration. Mr Opare-Asamoah said the introduction of the metro mass transport has had significant impact on socio-economic activities in the country, including the movement of people, goods and services.

Reports indicate that over 100,000 pupils enjoyed the MMT free bus riding system within one week after introduction in Accra alone and it is expected that about 25,000 pupils would ride free to and from school every day throughout the country under the government's Free Bus Riding scheme for school children in uniform from kindergarten to JSS level. "We are looking forward to people parking their cars and journeying to and from work on the metro mass transit," the Deputy Minister added. Mr Jaques Nyssen, Vice President of the Commerzbank, who signed the agreement on behalf of his government and the bank said the agreement was a sign of good cooperation between the two countries and that it was a first step towards further collaboration.

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