Hon. Richard Acheampong, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bia East in the Western Region, has expressed unhappiness with the government over the unnecessary delay in completing the cocoa roads projects in the Akwarbengkrom-to-Kwadwo Armakro communities.
According to the MP, the delay in completing the roads is rendering the constituents, mainly cocoa farmers, helpless, as they suffer post-harvest losses due the difficulties they have in conveying their cocoa produce to the market centres.
The Bia East Constituency, which is also a district on its own, has a deplorable road network that undermines its huge agriculture potential as one of the food baskets for the nation, with over 79.7 percent of households being farmers.
Bia East is one of the 22 metropolitan, municipal and district in the Western Region and is bordered by Dormaa District to the East, Asunafo North District to the North, Juaboso to the South and Bia West District to the West.
Asking the question on the floor of parliament, Mr. Acheampong, a Member of Finance Committee of Parliament, said, “Mr Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Roads and Highways when the Akwarbengkrom-to-Kwadwo Armakrom road will be awarded for construction.
Speaking to the press shortly after putting a question to the Minister of Roads and Highways, on the floor of parliament last Friday, Mr. Acheampong said work on the over 38 kilometre Akwarbengkrom-to-Kwadwo Armakrom road, which was awarded contract in 2008, has been stalled completely.
However, in response to the question, the Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwesi Amoako-Atta, said engineering design studies have been undertaken on the Akwarbengkrom to Kwadwo Armakrom road for upgrading to bituminous surfacing under the Department of Feeder Roads (DFR)’s periodic maintenance programme when funds are available.
This, he said, would complete the development of the entire road from Adabokrom in the Western Region to Adiembra in the Brong Ahafo Region as originally planned.
According to the minister, “the Akwarbengkrom to Kwadwo Armakrom road is a section within the 38 kilometre Adabokrom to Adiembra feeder road which was awarded on contract in 2008 under the Cocoa Roads Improvement Project (CRIP) for upgrading to bituminous surface in four (4) phases. This 38.0km road is Inter-District feeder road with gravel surface.”
He added that, works under the phase 3 and 4 representing 20 km of the 38 km which links the Kwadwo Armakrom to Adiembra communities were completed and handed over to government in 2009, while phase 1 and 2 of the project were terminated by the government for the contractor’s undue delay in completing the project.
Nevertheless, Hon Amoako-Atta said, there has been a review of works between Adabokrom and Akwarbengkrom, which is about 10 km for upgrading to bituminous surfacing after a contract had been re-awarded in October 2015, being the first phase of work between Adabokrom and Kwadwo Armakrom and work is since ongoing.
The minister explains that, work on that stretch of road is about 34 percent physical complete, which involved 7km gravels base course and 4km primer seal from the Adabokrom end.
He said although government has plans for reconstruction of all cocoa roads, currently there is no major construction work on the outstanding section between 10 km and 20 km of the Adabokrom to Adiembra feeder road, which is the stretch from Akwarbengkrom to Kwadwo Armakrom.
He further noted that, there would be routine maintenance activities to be undertaken on the road to improve the surface condition to enable farmers to access the road to their farms.
The minister assured that the surface work would be continued the contractor will resume work on the project site as soon government secures funds and makes it available to complete the roads for farmers.
But Mr. Acheampong called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, expedite action and fix the bad cocoa roads in Akwarbengkrom to Kwadwo Armakrom and their adjoining communities to save the cocoa farmers from losing their produce.
He stated that, though he acknowledged the minister’s assurance that work on the project will resume, the government should back its words with action, for the roads are so bad that they ought to be fixed as soon as possible to save the farmers from losing their produce.
The roads, he noted, are very important to the people of Akwarbengkrom and Kwadwo Armakrom, explaining, “apart from them being unmotorable to the farmers, the bad roads also produce dust, which is also not good to their health and could cause respiratory sickness which may worsen their plight.
He contended that Bia East is one of the largest agriculture production districts in the country and that its roads should be highly considered by the government, stressing that, “the roads need to be fixed for easy movement of farmers and their goods.”
While calling on the government to speed up with work on the deplorable roads, Mr. Acheampong also appealed to his constituents to exercise patience with the high hope that the government would honour its assurance promises to upgrade the roads to ease their transportation.
He said he would continue to knock at the doors of the government, especially the Roads and Highways Minister, to ensure that the Akwarbengkrom to Kwadwo Armakrom road is fixed for farmers to be able to convey their produce to market centers.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba