Members of Parliament for Juaboso and Bia East in the Western Region, Hon. Kwabena Minta Akando and Hon. Richard Acheampong have accused government of stifling the cocoa industry and slowly killing off communities in cocoa growing areas.
According to the MPs, government’s decision to abandon the rehabilitation of cocoa roads, especially in the Western Region is gradually taking away the economic empowerment of the people.
In an interview with the media in Parliament, the MPs pointed out that there is direct linkage between cocoa production and good roads and queried why government is not utilizing some funds from the cocoa sector to fix the cocoa roads.
Hon. Minta Akando cautioned that if the bad roads are not fixed, it will not tempt farmers to increase production because there is a risk the beans could remain on the farm and rot.
He inquired, “If the roads are not good, how would the farmer transport his beans to the purchasing point and then to the port.”
According to him, government claimed it was conducting a value for money audit after it halted the cocoa road project but since then there has not been any indication that the construction would continue.
He stressed that cocoa farmers had hoped an allocation would be made from a syndicated loan facility of US$2 billion government contracted from China to continue the projects.
He pointed out that in paragraph 190 of the Mid-Year Budget review presented to the Parliament, the finance Minister disclosed that government is contracting a US$2 billion facility from Sinohydro to construct roads, bridges and complete other road projects.
“Unfortunately, no allocation has been made though we believed it was a reliable fund to fix the deplorable roads in the cocoa growing areas because we are aware of the burden on the road fund and government kitty in general.”
“Cocoa farmers have contributed immensely to the economy of this country and till date cocoa continues to be the backbone of Ghana’s economy.”
Hon. Minta Akando noted that if the roads are not constructed immediately but are allowed to deteriorate after the initial work under the NDC, it would cost the state more to seek fresh funding to start all over again.
“We should threat Ghana as our own country and as our own property.”
“We should do away with the petty partisan positions we take on important projects,” he stated.
He noted that the roads being talked about include an international road that connects Ghana to Cote d’Ivoire and stressed the importance for government to revisit its position again.
He indicated that he had tabled not less than four questions for the road’s minister and added some are currently pending but noted that if the questions are not admitted and advertised, they would continue to be on paper while the roads deteriorate further.
Hon. Richard Acheampong indicated that the roads are virtually caving in and usually get completely cut off during rain storms and preventing school children from getting to school and the people having access to markets and their farms.
He appealed to government to urgently continue with the rehabilitation of the cocoa roads as started under the NDC administration to bring the much needed relief to cocoa farmers and people from cocoa growing areas.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org