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Komenda waiting for President Akufo-Addo

BY: Enimil Ashon
Komenda waiting for President Akufo-Addo
Komenda waiting for President Akufo-Addo

Some things happen only in Ghana. It is the only country where a factory is built six years before the raw material for production is found!

Well, looks like there is good news on the horizon. There are whispers that on his way either to or from Oguaa Fetu Afahye, the President will stop by Ekitakyi (Komenda’s maiden name) to re-inaugurate the sugar factory which many, including some 7,300 desperately hungry job hunters, have since its inauguration in May 2016 long dismissed as a political white elephant.

Welcome to Komenda, Mr President. But after the inaugural fanfare, where will the feedstock, the essential sugarcane, come from?

Why?

Why should it have taken Ghana, experts in sugarcane cultivation since the 1960s, six years to grow this grass which even in

colder countries such as USA takes only seven months to bear fruit?

Well apparently, we may not be processing sugarcane, after all. The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Komenda Edina Eguafo Abrem, Solomon Ebo Appiah, announced recently that “the Komenda Sugar Factory will soon start the processing of unrefined sugar”.

According to the MCE, the factory would import molasses to be refined until such a time that Ghana would be able to grow the right kind of sugarcane needed to feed the factory.

Why? Hear him: “The measure is to get the factory functioning and produce sugar at a cheaper cost.”

We have waited six years, only to hit upon this “brilliant” idea of importing molasses! Whatever happened to us? Ghana was producing molasses at its Asutsuare Sugar Factory in the 1960s!

The model itself was based on a 1948 feasibility report. Molasses, a by-product of the sugar production process, is used to produce industrial ethanol, itself used as an engine fuel and fuel additive. (In Brazil cars run on ethanol)

Talk about “cheaper” cost. Can either the MCE or the factory management deny that three-four years ago, the Department of Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, University of Cape Coast, produced tissue culture for sugarcane seedlings whose sucrose content was found to be far higher than the old or existing variety? Why have we not gone for it?

A more believable explanation for six years of waiting is that (says the MCE) “there are a lot of works going on at the factory right now. A three-million-litre reservoir has been constructed. The roof of the factory has been changed, and a raw sugar warehouse has been built to store raw unrefined sugar for processing”.

President Akufo-Addo is expected to confirm that an Indian firm has taken over the operations of the factory. The company was expected to inject $28 million into the operation between 2020 and 2023 for sugarcane cultivation, plant and machinery upgrade and working capital.

Already, up until its first inauguration by ex-President Mahama, we had pumped US$35 million, an Indian EXIM Bank facility, into the factory.

Answer

Why have we had to wait six years? It is a question that should have gone to the President Akufo-Addo government, but on closer examination of the facts, I think the Mahama administration owes Ghanaians an answer.

If all of the new investments and frantic search for feedstock have become necessary today – all of which were evidently not in place at the time of inauguration fanfare in 2016 – how did President Mahama’s experts think we were successfully going to produce sugar in large volumes from this factory in 2016?

We are told that the factory has secured over 22,500 acres of land from the Sekyere Hemang, Shama and Winneba enclaves to grow sugarcane and at the same time buy from the out-growers.

Tell that to the marines (apologies to Kweku Baako).

These are the same lands on which hectares upon hectares of sugarcane were cultivated to successfully produce sugar in the First Republic, 60-plus years ago.

From Shama Junction you drove 30 minutes looking at sugarcane. We closed down the factory and sold the land for real estate.

Someone or a group of people have taken Ghanaians for a luxury ride. Unfortunately, to demand accountability is to start an NPP/NDC war of words, the job on which they are at their most efficient.

Is it to repeat such unpardonable abysmal failures that the two parties are constantly at each other’s throats?

Methinks Ghanaians have had to endure such insults to our intelligence because whether we like it or not, we continue to be inflicted with this unworkable and unworthy two-party practice of partisan political democracy.

So far, the only group of people enjoying the system are those whom we pay GH¢20,000.00 a month to do nothing and another GH¢365,000.00 to go away after every four-year cycle of failures.

They hold Article 71 positions.

The writer is Executive Director, Centre for Communication and Culture. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.