Sherigu; deprived yet well-endowed farming community

BY: Vincent Amenuveve
The deplorable state of roads in Sherigu
The deplorable state of roads in Sherigu

Sherigu is one of the many deprived yet well-endowed farming communities in the Bolgatanga municipality in the Upper East Region that has over the years suffered neglect from successive governments when it comes to the provision of basic social amenities.

One of the issues that has generated discussions over the years is the continuous use of the area as a dumping site for refuse generated in the municipality, which poses serious health hazards to the people in the area.

Some environmental officers at the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly say about 250 litter bins full of refuse are collected in the municipality daily, suggesting the need for the establishment of a waste recycling plant to address the situation.

According to some residents of Sherigu, however, the dumping of refuse in the area was not being managed to their expectation. They argued that the community should not be seen only as a dumping site for refuse but also as a safe haven for investment; hence the need for the establishment of the requisite infrastructure and basic social amenities to enable the community to contribute meaningfully to the country's economy.

For one thing, Sherigu is a community that has a lot of potential and has been participating well in the country's electoral processes since 1992. Indeed, the community has a population of about 24,000, with a voter population of about 10,000. It is one of the suburbs of the Bolgatanga Municipality that has the numbers when it comes to voting, and for those aspiring to be parliamentarians for the Bolgatanga Central Constituency, they need votes from this community and Sumbrungu to determine their fate.


The Bolgatanga Central Constituency in the 2016 election had about 48,714 valid votes cast in the parliamentary elections,one of the largest constituencies in the Upper East Region. Sherigu has four electoral areas, namely Pumpungo, Kumblingo, Dorongo and Kalbeo electoral areas, and their voter population as indicated earlier is quite significant in the Bolgatanga Central Constituency. The community also has about 18 villages which include Kembisi, Zuribisi, Kumperigo, Agondui, Nyorkor, Akulidoone, Sapio, Tinganebisi, Kunkua, Kariyasi and Avogeribisi.

Challenges

It is regrettable, however, to say that some residents believe that the commitment of this community towards the country's democratisation is not commensurate with the level of development the community receives. Therefore, members of the community have used various platforms to raise concerns about so many issues regarding the inability of duty-bearers to meet their aspirations, particularly the provision of basic social amenities such as potable water, roads, electricity, health facilities and educational infrastructure.

Electricity

For the Kumblingo Bolongo Electoral Area for instance, the assembly member for the area, Mr Johnson Ayamga, stated in an interview that only two per cent of the area was connected to the national grid. He explained that unfortunately it was his area that was being used for the dumping of all the refuse generated in the municipality.

Elizabeth Aniah, a student, explained that the lack of electricity was affecting pupils in various basic schools in the area because they were unable to learn or revise their notes at night.

The situation, she noted, had resulted in poor academic performance in the area. Due to the non-availability of electricity, some women in the community who are into basket weaving are also not able to expand their businesses and generate income to pay the school fees of their children.

Some residents of the community also claim they cannot bear the high cost of buying kerosene or fuel to power their generator to enable them to get electricity for their respective businesses.

As a result of the lack of electricity, the residents indicated that there had been rampant stealing during the night as some people sneaked into the forest reserve at night to cut trees.

Road

The poor road network in the community is equally a major source of worry to the people of Sherigu, including opinion leaders. A representative of the Chief of Sherigu, Mr Nsoh Apasinaba, wondered why the community had over the years been neglected when indeed there was a lot of potential in the area. A former Assembly Member for the Kumblingo Bolongo Electoral area, Mr Bernard Ayesigo, bemoaned the poor state of roads in the area which had not improved over the years; hence the reluctance of commercial vehicles, including taxicabs, to ply the Bolgatanga-Sherigu road except for the motor tricycles, popularly called the Mahama-Can-Do.

He noted that although he had been an assembly member for eight years,he tried to the best of his ability to raise concerns about the poor nature of the roads, but it did not yield the desired results.

"In fact, during the rainy seasons, the roads become very slippery and most of the culverts have broken down," Mr Ayesigo further lamented.

A broadcast journalist who hails from the community and pleaded anonymity, expressed regret that "gravels for the construction of parts of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga-Tamale highway were fetched from Sherigu yet the community cannot boast a tarred road".

A member of the community, Mr Anthony Asakisango, entreated the government "not to deny the people of Bolga-Sherigu their fair share of the national cake in the distribution of development projects".

He indicated that several calls for the rehabilitation of the Bolgatanga-Sherigu road had proved futile and in fact "we are very disappointed at the way things are going because we have been neglected for far too long".

Potential

In spite of all these challenges, it is worthy to note that the Sherigu community is endowed with a lot of potential, particularly its vast stretch of land is something the community members always boast about. Therefore, farming is predominant in the area and residents hope the necessary infrastructure will be provided to boost farming activities to enhance food security.

The community has offered sites for the much-talked about regional airport project. It must, however, be pointed out that the siting of the airport is a vexed issue between the Sumbrungu community and the Sherigu community, both in the Bolgatanga municipality, with each of the communities stating their positions and giving reasons why the proposed airport project should be sited in one community or the other.

Aside from the airport project, the Sherigu community, through its chiefs, has released about 100 hectares for the construction of the regional referral hospital.It is also rumoured that the community is blessed with some mineral deposits, including gold, which must be tapped.

During the visit of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on July 19, 2018 to the Upper East Region, he indicated the commitment of the government to provide an airport in Bolgatanga. He explained that it was already on the drawing board and that measures were being put in place by the government to kick-start the project.But as to whether the airport would be sited at the proposed sites in Sherigu or Sumbrungu is another matter altogether which stakeholders must resolve.

MCE

When contacted, the Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Joseph Ameyuri, said anywhere the airport would be sited would serve the region well.

He indicated that a lot was going on behind the scenes and very soon the issues about roads and other challenges in the community would be addressed. He explained that he believed more in doing the work than talking.

Flashback

It will be recalled that in September 2016, scores of placard-bearing residents of Sherigu took to the streets to register their displeasure about what they described as "the lack of basic social amenities and the deplorable road network in the area".

They further expressed regret that for several years, successive governments had "neglected the community to the extent that there is no electricity, good roads and educational facilities". They threatened to boycott the 2016 general election but rescinded their decision based on some assurances they received from some duty-bearers. But now two years down the line, the challenges faced by this deprived community persist.