Hon Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, Member of Parliament for Juaboso,in the Western Region, has dragged the Minister for Roads and Highways to parliament to explain why many of the cocoa roads in the constituency and its adjourning communities remained in bad condition.
According to him, the roads are too bad such that, tones of cocoa, foodstuff and timber are stuck in some producing communities, causing farmers to lose huge financial investment in cocoa and other foodstuff.
He said the dilapidated nature of the road networks plus the onset of the rains had adversely affected the conveyance of cocoa beans from farms and producing communities to the various market centres in the country.
“Mr Speaker,I rise to ask the Minister for Roads and Highways when the Benchemah Junction to Ajuafua road,the only available route for commuters in the catchment area would be completed to facilitate the movement of persons and goods including in particular cocoa , as the road is currently virtually impassable ?,” Mr Akandoh asked the Minister.
In response, the Minister for Roads and Highways, Mr Kwesi Amoako-Atta said the road in question is main fair condition as part of its surface is travelled and partly bituminous.
He noted that, the 39 km road served as one of the important cocoa roads in the Western Region and also served as an economic route that link Ghana to the Ivory Coast.
“Mr Speaker, the Benchmah to Juafua road is part of Inter-Regional route IR 05. This section of the road is in the Juaboso and Bia West District of the Western Region. The road length is 39 km . The route IR-05 connect the Ashanti Region ad part of Sewfi area of the Western Region and leads to the border with Cote,d Ivoire at Osei-Kojokrom. The road is one of the main routes for haulage of Cocoa and Timber products in the Western Region,” the sector Minister stated.
According to the Minister, “the Ghana Highways Authority Tender Committee has awarded the project on contract after the Central Tender Review Committee gave concurrent approval for the award,” stressing that, ” the contract documents are yet to be signed because the Ministry of Finance is resolving the issues of the Contractor not including tax in building up the rates for work items.”
Mr Amoako-Atta that, the Ministry of Finance is also finalizing the loan arrangement from ING Bank for Government of Ghana which would serve as a condition precedent to the singing of the contract.
The Minister explained that the contract for Benchmah to Juafua road project is expected to be signed during the first quarter of this years, and work projected to start in the second quarter of 2019.
He however assured the MP and the people of Juaboso of the Government determination to complete the project to help in haulage of cocoa and timbers have therefore threatened to send their cocoa to Ivory Coast to sell on condition that government fails to attend to their deplorable roads.
But Mr Akandoh told THE REPUBLIC, he was not satisfied by the answers given by the Minister on grounds that, the residents had been facing the challenge for more than two years, but nothing had been done about it amidst several complaints.
The former Deputy Minister for Lands and Forestry indicated that trucks loads of cocoa beans enroutes to Takoradi are stacked in the forest due to the inaccessible nature of the roads, thereby affecting cocoa production in the region.
He added that,until the cocoa roads in the area are fixed, government would continue to lose revenue from cocoa production in the area, saying that, “there is the need for immediate intervention by the government and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to shape the roads to ensure easy transportation to avert more lose of revenue from cocoa in the area.”
He lamented that, without government intervention to upgrade the roads, evacuating cocoa from Juaboso and other heavy producing areas in the district for haulage to Takoradi for onward shipment would continue to be a problem.
Apart from cocoa, many of the communities produce tonnes of plantain, oil palm, cassava and other foodstuffs.
For that, Mr Akandoh said currently the only option for the cocoa farmers was for women to carry on head to the nearest market, stating, “If nothing is done immediately, Ghana would lose more cocoa on farms.”
“I want to use this medium to appeal to the government and the COCOBOD, to turn their attention to Benchmah to Juafua areas where cocoa farming cultivation still remains the major occupation of the people,” he stated.
The previous government under the NDC commenced the Cocoa Roads Project, aimed at improving road networks in cocoa communities and ensuring access to remote cocoa areas as well as creating a congenial environment to promote the livelihoods of cocoa farmers.
Among other things, it was to solve the challenges associated with carting cocoa beans from the farm gates to buying centers and also to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers.
Hon Kwabena Akandoh
Source: the Republic responsible.com/Felix Nyaaba