DOES THE VOLTA REGION REALLY NEED AN AIRPORT?
I was on the Internet, some few weeks ago and a headline caught my attention.
“HO GOES AGOG AS PREZ MAHAMA CUTS SOD FOR AIRPORT “By:Kwame Asare Boadu & Mary Anane.Saturday,19th September 2015.11:36 published in General news section of http://www.grahic.com.gh . I was tempted to also join in the agape, because I hail from the Volta Region. After thinking critically, I exclaimed, Airport in Ho for what!!! In my quest to get my question answered, I read on. The publication went on to say “when completed,the facility will have, among others ,a runway of 1,900 metres in length and 30 metres wide, an aircraft parking area, a terminal building to hold at least 150,000 passengers a year, a VIP and VVIP facility, a parking area for staff and nine-kilometer network of roads around the airport”. The Ghana Airports company Limited, is financing the project, the first phase of which will cost $25million.
Amandi construction, is the company contracted, to undertake the project.
“Touching on the benefits, President Mahama said the Ho airport would boost the economy of the Volta Region. He said for instance, that it would enhance tourism in the region and create jobs for the people”. It’s very mind boggling, that after 58years of attaining independence, governments are still struggling to set their priorities right when it comes to policy formulation.
Mr.President,you got it all wrong, right from the word “Go”!!! And ended up contradicting yourself, by allowing the contract to be awarded to a foreign company.(I stand to be corrected). When I did my background checks about the company, in order to ascertain the nationality of the company, and ferret out more information, i hit a snag when I was asked to enter my client username and password. When I looked up for the nationality of the project manager on the internet, his name doesn’t sound Ghanaian so I assume it’s not a Ghanaian company. I remember vividly a year ago Mr. President, when you admonished Ghanaians, to patronize made in Ghana products, in your state of the nation address.I’d like to quote a portion from http://www.todaygh.com, dated February 26th,2014 .”Delivering his state of the nation address,Mr Mahama bemoaned the lack of patronage of made-in-Ghana goods and the over reliance on foreign products .” To buttress why the country needs to limit its dependence on foreign products, President Mahama disclosed that, the country expended 1.5 billion dollars on the importation of consumables such as rice,sugar,cooking oil, tomato fish; monies “which could have gone into the pockets of Ghanaian entrepreneurs.” “If this money had been retained and spent in Ghana, it would have gone into the pockets of Ghanaian entrepreneurs, which would subsequently remain here to boost the economy,” he said.
Mr.President,you just did the opposite by enriching the pockets of a foreign contractor, by allowing the airport contract to be awarded to him, that’s why I said earlier, you got it wrong from the beginning. We all know how some of these foreign construction firms, exploit the cheap labor, of the poor Ghanaian. They sometimes expose these workers, to harsh working conditions. To synopsize it all, I don’t see any credible job created here.
I’m still finding it difficult to fathom, how this airport project, would boost the economy, of the Volta Region. I’d rather humbly ask the President, to travel on the Ho-Denu Road, to have a feel of the bumpy ride, when travelling on that road .That road has been plagued, with a lot of potholes, meanwhile most traders traverse, from Ho to Denu and vice versa to conduct their businesses there. Due to the deplorable nature of that road, some traders fear travelling on that road because, the deplorable nature of the road, has increased the rate of accidents, on that road.
Let’s go to ketasco, also in the Volta Region, where colossal quantities of salt, is mined from the water bodies there.Unfortunately,there are no factories, to refine the salt and package it for export, In order to rake in foreign exchange, for the country.Keta and its surrounding communities, are known for harvesting salubrious fishes, but they can’t boast of a single sardine processing factory, to package these fishes for export. In his recent visit to Keta, the President promised them a fishing harbor. This project, is yet to see the light of day.
Fast forward to Afife, in the Ketu North district, of the Volta Region. The people of Afife, are noted for producing high quality rice, but my question is, how many bags of Afife rice, makes it way unto the international market? Does their way of packaging, meet international standards, to make it suitable for export? I ‘m sure the farmers, need affordable credit facilities and loans, to enhance their work. The people of Ho, are well noted, for cultivating yam . That’s why they celebrate the Yam festival, to usher in a new Yam. Apart from being cooked and eaten, yam can also be processed, into Yam crisps, and Yam flour. Yam flour comes with legumes and soya blend. It is good for puddings and can be used, for pastry. These Yam products, when processed and packaged well, can be exported and the foreign exchange gained, can benefit the region and the country as a whole. But Mr. President,Ho doesn’t have any factory, for this task, to the best of my knowledge. The only factory they have, is in their stomachs where the eaten yams get digested.
These are issues when addressed, would boost the economy of the region, for now and not an airport.
The President, made mention of the airport, enhancing tourism.Wli waterfalls, is one of the major tourist attractions, located in the Agumatsa Wildlife sanctuary, in the Hohoe District,
of the Volta region .Wli falls, is supposed to be, the highest waterfall, in West Africa, though specifications of it’s real height, vary considerably. With estimates ranging from 200, to as much as 400m.The nature of the road, leading to Hohoe, is in a horrid state, not to talk of the one, leading to Wli.Mr.President, why should a new tourist attraction, be created, in the region, whilst the roads leading to the existing ones, are in deplorable conditions? Tourists, won’t even be attracted, to this site, due to the bad nature of the road. I think on a scale of preference, maintenance of the current tourist sites, should come first, before adding the almighty airport to them.
In my candid opinion, I don’t think the construction of an airport, is a major concern, for the people of the Volta Region, at the moment. There are other pressing issues, that this airport resources, can be channeled into, that would benefit the region more.
It is high time, government starts setting, its priorities right and stop undertaking projects, just to score cheap political points, and start undertaking projects, that would be of more benefit, to the Ghanaian and the nation as a whole.
The Volta Region would surely need an airport, but for now it’s not a major concern.