In a bid to bridge the development gap and reduce poverty among his constituents, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Afram Plains South Constituency in the Eastern Region, Hon. Eric Osei Owusu, has unveiled a development blueprint for the area.
According to him, the constituency, with very rich groundwater resources, including the Volta Lake, Afram River, Obosom River, and Bridge Anor, would be the focus area of priority development to woo tourists.
The MP unveiled the long-awaited vision for the constituency during an exclusive interview with The Republic in parliament last Friday, releasing a wide-ranging blueprint that sets out ambitious policy ideas for the years ahead.
The constituency, which is also a district on its own, is located at the north-western corner of the Eastern Region with a total land area of approximately 3,095 sq km, according to the district profile.
It is bounded on the north by the Kwahu Afram Plains North, on the south by the Kwahu South, on the east by the Afram River and on the west by two districts in the Ashanti Region, precisely Sekyere East (Sekyere Afram Plains) and Ashanti-Akim North.
There are two main entrances to the constituency by road; namely Nkawkaw-Mpraeso-Bepong-Kwahu Tafo and Adawso from where the three-kilometer wide Afram River is crossed to Ekye-Amanfrom by ferry operated by the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC).
The second entrance is through Agogo in the Sekyere Afram Plains in the Ashanti Region where one can travel by road through Dome to Maame Krobo and then to Tease, the district capital.
The Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC) provides ferry services on the Lake and currently operates one ferry in the Kwahu Afram Plains South between Adawso and Ekye-Amanfrom.
In spite of the fact that the Afram Plains South is one of the food baskets of the country, it remains one of the most deprived areas in the country.
The road network, access to markets, storage facilities, access to potable drinking water and prompt health care, sanitation, quality basic education, among other facilities, are the major development challenges in the area.
Generally, he said the situation puts the residents in a very risky position, as their dream to enjoy their labour as farmers to feed themselves and other Ghanaians remains a mirage.
Nonetheless, Mr. Owusu, a member of Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs and Privileges Committees of Parliament, said hope was not lost for there is light at the tail end of the tunnel.
He told The Republic exclusively that he is planning and working hard to change the trend and his focus is on tourism, agriculture, education, water, sanitation and health.
However, he said he needs investment opportunities that would woo business tycoons and philanthropists, as well, and, therefore, he had planned introducing water tourism, like mini-cruise liner and houseboats, in the constituency to promote and attract tourists.
Already, he said, he had helped institute and launch the Afram Plains Annual Cultural Festival in April, this year, as the first step to kick-start what he described as “tourism hub” to unlock the yawning developmental gap between the constituency and others in the region.
In his view, boat rides in the form of water sports would be promoted at the Afram River and Obosom River, while similar facilities would also be made available on the Volta Lake stretch.
For implementation of this ambitious developmental plan, the Afram Plains South lawmaker said he is discussing it with his constituents, especially the chiefs, business owners in the area, the youth, opinion leaders and all interest group.
Mr. Owusu, who spoke passionately about the developmental needs of his constituents, told the paper that the road network from the farming communities to the major market centres, such as Maame Krobo, Tease and Donkorkrom, are terrible, stating that “in fact, there are no roads leading to the farming areas, we don’t have any infrastructure work ongoing in the constituency, we have virtually nothing.”
For instance, he said, a 19-km road stretching from Dome to Kwesifanti communities, awarded on contract under the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, is in deplorable state, as the contractor has since left the project site, leaving the road as a death-trap to residents and travellers.
He further lamented that, “access to water, access to healthcare services and, indeed, tractors and storage facilities, like warehouse, are the basic things we need, but as I am speaking to you, we have none.”
The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Buffer Stock stated that, farmers in the area do not have reliable storage facilities to preserve their produce, those who cannot afford the charges of the tractor leave their produce to go waste on their farms as there are no warehouses.
On the issue of water and sanitation which remains a national problem, Mr. Owusu said, over 90% of the constituents could not access drinkable water and that those who could even reach out to rivers or the lake for water, are considered blessed, as most of the remote communities struggle daily to get water.
Unemployment among the youth, he noted, remained another challenge in the constituency, as agriculture is the predominat source of employment, stressing that all these emanated as a result of the schools not having teachers to teach pupils to excel and further their education, hence his strive to improve the education system in the area.
He revealed that, through his personal resources, about 100 university students have been engaged periodically to offer teaching assistance to the pupils in both primary and junior high schools to improve the quality of education in the area, while plans are far in advance to offer scholarship to brilliant but most needy students/pupils.
In addition to that, he said, looking at the poverty level in the constituency, every child deserves a scholarship, but the resources are not there, adding that, during the 2017 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), he had had to assist the over 864 candidates with a minimum of GHc20.00 each, to enable them to feed and participate the exams successfully.
He however charged parents and guardians to take their wards’ educational needs seriously, commit the few resources at their disposal for their education, as education remains the surest way to end the cycle of poverty in their communities.
While acknowledging the pivotal role of community members and stakeholders in development, the Afram Plains MP urged the constituents to live peacefully with each other, but hopeful, as the task of lobbying for development involved peace and cooperation, promising he will never let them down.
He reiterated his commitment to reduce the level of poverty and the development gap in the constituency.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba