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30.03.2006 Regional News

Twelve Million-Euro Project to commence in Elmina

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Accra, March 30, GNA - The Government on Thursday signed a contract agreement with Messrs Dredging International of Belgium for the restoration of the Elmina Benya Lagoon.

The contract, to be executed within 12 months involves the dredging of the entire lagoon, the removal of embedded rocks at the entrance, the repair of the existing breakwater and improvement of mooring facilities.

The project, which would be under the supervision of Ghanaian consultants, ADK Consortium, would cost 12 million Euros. The Belgian Government would provide a concessionary credit facility. Signing the contract on behalf of the Government, Mr Hackman Owusu - Agyemang, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, said the present level of silting and sedimentation at the entrance of the Lagoon made it unsafe for navigation for the 500 to 700 vessels that used the Lagoon.

He said: "Additionally, these canoes are moored offshore with associated dangers from sea waves with consequential structural damages, including the loss of canoes due to sinking."

Mr Owusu-Agyemang said the protecting breakwater had also been damaged by sea waves and some of the armour rocks were scattered and embedded at the entrance of the Lagoon. "It has, therefore, become necessary for the Government to take urgent measures to restore the Lagoon to its former status. "This will permit the use of the Lagoon as a safe haven and landing site for fishermen," he said.

Touching on use of the Lagoon for the annual regatta, Mr Owusu-Agyemeng said the restoration of the Lagoon would also revive the cultural heritage of the local community.

He expressed the hope of employment generation for the people of Elmina and surrounding communities during the execution of the project. Mr Owusu-Agyemang, however, cautioned the contractors that the Ministry would not tolerate laxity and poor work. He said the dredging works only formed Phase One of the Project, whilst the Phase Two would involve the construction of a modern fishing harbour for the fishing community, which would be spearheaded by the Ministry of Fisheries.

Mr Koen De Grave, Country representative of Dredging International, who signed on behalf of the contractors, thanked the Government for the confidence reposed in the Company and said it would not let the Government down.

He said through the execution of the contract, a stronger relationship would be built between the Government of Ghana and the Government of Belgium.

"With the right approaches and the right parties, we hope to complete the work before the scheduled time," Mr De Grave said. Dr Paa Kwesi Ndoum, Member of Parliament for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem, expressed his joy at the commencement of work.

He said though government after government since the 1960s had promised to dredge the Lagoon, "no government has been able to fulfil the promise until this year".

Dr Ndoum said the project was important for the Region since it was on record that it was one of the poorest regions in the country coming immediately after the three Northern Regions. "This project would go a long way to improve the livelihood of many people within the community," he said, adding that it would also improve the environmental sanitation of the area.