President John Dramani Mahama has dispatched a high-level government delegation to China to facilitate the release of the remainder of the $3-billion Chinese loan for the construction of landing beaches and the expansion of the Takoradi Port.
The delegation is said to be led by the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper.
Ghana has so far received about $600 million out of the $3-billion loan but it pays commitment fees on the whole loan.
Addressing the Western Regional House of Chiefs in Takoradi as part of his three-day working visit to the region, President Mahama expressed the hope that the necessary agreement would be signed and the money subsequently released for the intended projects.
The $3-billion loan from the China Development Bank (CDB) is expected to be used by the government for a number of development projects.
They include the Western Corridor infrastructure renewal project, that is, the Takoradi-Kumasi road and the Dunkwa-Awaso railway line; the Takoradi Port retrofit phase 1; the Sekondi free zone project and phase one of the Accra Plains irrigation project.
The rest are the coastal fishing harbours and landing sites re-development project to cover Axim, Dixcove, Elmina, Winneba, Mumford, Senya Beraku, Jamestown, Teshie, Tema, Ada and Keta; the Eastern Corridor multi-modal transportation project which involves the upgrading of the Volta Lake ferries, pontoons and landing sites at Kpandu-Amankwakrom, Kete Krachi-Kwadwokrom, Yeji-Makongo, Tapa Abotoase and Dzemini, and the upgrade of the Akosombo and the Buipe ports.
The President assured the people of the Western Region of more investment in development projects to advance the region’s contribution to the economy.
He said in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), the region contributed significantly through agriculture, fisheries, mining and oil and gas.
One of the major concerns of the region, he said, was the state of its road networks and explained that his visit to the region was to inspect and update himself on progress of work so far and what needed to be done.
The President said the government was aware of the apprehension among the people of the region concerning the possible withdrawal of support by the European Union (EU) for the Tarkwa Bogoso-Ayamfuri road due to the delay.
He said the government had reached an agreement with the EU for the extension of the contract period for the project, saying, “I can assure the people of the region that the Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayamfuri road will continue and will be completed.”
Mr Mahama said the government was also aware of how passionate the people of the Western Region were about the railway sector and the need to revamp it.
“I can assure you that the government is committed to the railways project and work will start on the Western rail lines which will run from Takoradi to Kumasi,” he said.
The government, he said, had painfully observed how road haulage of bauxite and manganese from Awaso and Nsuta shortened the lifespan of the roads, necessitating the need to revamp the rail lines to take the traffic off the roads.
On the issue of illegal mining, the President asked for the support of the chiefs to halt galamsey activities and said the government was coming up with new alternative livelihood programmes for the illegal miners, to be supported by the World Bank.
President Mahama appealed to Ghanaians to have patience with the government as it moved to address current power outages which he described as short term.
For their part, members of the Western Regional House of Chiefs called on Ghanaians to re-commit themselves to support government in its relentless efforts at initiating and implementing projects and programmes that would help the development of the region.
Speaking on behalf of the chiefs, the acting President of the Western Regional House of Chiefs, Nana Kwesi Agyeman, thanked the President for the assurance to the people of the region
“It is our view and hope that the railways facility will be restructured to address our national developmental needs and we hope that the work that has already begun will continue in earnest to save our roads,” he said.
The Minister of Chieftaincy Affairs, Dr Seidu Danaa, underscored the need for continuous dialogue and interactions between the central government and chiefs, which he said was very important for the progress of any modern democracy in Africa.
The President later inspected work on the Takoradi Port, the Ngyeresia sea defence project and embarked on a tour of the Enterprise Development Centre in Takoradi, the 110-km Agona Junction-Elubo road rehabilitation, the Kansawurodu bypass, among others.