Volta Region open to everybody - Dr Letsa

BY: Rebecca Quaicoe Duho
Rebecca Quaicoe Duho (left), Staff Writer of the Daily Graphic, interviewing Dr Archibald Yao Letsa (right), the Volta Regional Minister. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI
Rebecca Quaicoe Duho (left), Staff Writer of the Daily Graphic, interviewing Dr Archibald Yao Letsa (right), the Volta Regional Minister. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI

The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa (AYL), recently visited the Editorial Board and Newsroom of the Daily Graphic to discuss a wide range of issues about the region and the country. Our Staff Writer, Rebecca Quaicoe Duho (RQD) interviewed him on developments in the region.

Rebecca Quaicoe Duho (RQD): When it comes to development how has the division of the region into two helped the people? Dr Archibald Yao Letsa (AYL): The whole idea was to bring development closer to people and it is a fact that Oti has been less privileged when it comes to development in those days but with their own region, development is becoming faster and Volta is getting its fair share. Now we don’t get developmental projects in Volta and we have to decide which of them is going to Oti. They have their own projects and Volta also has its own.

RQD: Has the Volta Region in particular benefitted from any of Ghana’s flagship social intervention programmes?

AYL: We have about a 100,000 farmers in the Volta Region who have registered for the “Planting for Food and Jobs”. In the same way, we also have benefited from the Free SHS, Free TVET. We have many second cycle and TVET institutions in the region.

The Volta Region has benefited from the Planting for Export and Rural Development. We have a lot of Teak, Cashew, Mango and plantations that assemblies have been tasked to take care of which they are doing a good job. There are others such as road networks and “One District, One Factory“ In collaboration with the private sectors.

The fact is that, we have to make ourselves competitive as a region because the investor has a choice to decide where to go. If there is competition from another region and the conditions there are better, i.e, access to the ports and to markets and so on, we have to position ourselves in such a way that not all the people will be in Accra and Tema, Takoradi and Cape Coast but would also come to the rural areas.

RQD: Can we put numbers to the One District, One Factory (1D1F) ?

AYL: We have about 40 in the pipeline and some of them are trying to access capital from the designated banks. The last time I checked, there are about fi ve or six who are benefiting and there are many more who have applied for support from the banks.

RQD: In terms of roads, what are the major developments being done in the region?

AYL: What I’ll say is that we have had our share of road projects in the region. But as you know, we always ask for more until all the roads are done and completed and people enjoy the comfort of travelling on these roads, we will always have people asking for more.

Right now we are also working on the dual carriage when you are entering Ho from Sokode which is about 10.5 kilometres and we are expecting that it should be done by the end of the year.

We also have a bypass when you’re getting to Ho from Sokode; at the UHAS University junction there is the bypass that takes you out of the town to join the Ho-Denu road. That Ho-Denu road is very bad so we identified it as one of our priority roads and the adverts were made in the papers last week. In the meantime we are doing some patching to make it more comfortable before the construction takes place.

We have also prioritised the roads from Ketu North getting to Keta which have been advertised to be done. We have those around Ho, Sokode, Akrofu, Kpeve which have all been advertised. We awarded some of them some time ago but the contractors didn’t do a good job so they have been advertised to be redone.

RQD: A lot of children have been trafficked to the Volta Lake. How is the region resolving this?

AYL: It’s a challenge when some of our people don’t put value on their kids and can give them away for GH¢200 but we are receiving support from the government and the international community to address this issue.

Many children are being freed and the problem now is to get shelter for them and facilities for these kids because it’s difficult to send a child back to parents who gave them away for GH¢200. We feel bad when these issues are covered on TV and it’s something we must bring an end to.

There’s another programme that educates the parents against this. The children have to be in school and we have to make sure they have a good future. So it is an issue being addressed by the government.

RQD: When is the Ho airport taking off fully?

AYL: The Ho airport is a very great investment. I think the last time I checked we’ve spent about $25million or more on that airport. And since President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo came to office in 2017, 90 per cent of the work was done but only 10 per cent of the payment had been made.

He gave an order and the contractor was paid. So the airport is ready, we have everything in place. Africa World was the fi rst to come with a test fl ight and they promised us last year that they would start but they haven’t started. Then Passion came also with the test fl ight and Passion Air actually agreed to start flights. And we were flying to Ho on Fridays and Sundays but with the rising cost of aviation fuel, and the general slow down of economies all over the world, the patronage was not too good.

There are other options that are being considered such as putting up a flying school with the Ho Technical University and maybe even a pilot training school in Ho or even aircraft maintenance centre in Ho.

RQD: What are some of the challenges facing the Volta Region?

AYL: All the interventions are to address challenges. We need food for the people we need to produce food to feed the people and that will also reduce the inflation that we are having.

So the challenges facing farmers must be addressed, we talk about roads and also we haven’t discussed the tourism potential that we have in Volta Region. We are working on our road network to our tourist sites, especially the Wli Water Falls a very popular tourist destination.

We have a campaign called ‘Visit Volta experience Ghana’, if you don’t visit Volta you can’t experience Ghana. When you visit Volta anything you want in any part of Ghana is in the Volta Region.

RQD: So with all these beautiful things going on in the region, what is the crime profile of the region?

AYL: Volta region is very peaceful. It’s about the most peaceful region in Ghana when it comes to crime figures. We’ve always been adjudged one of the most peaceful regions in Ghana and the few crimes that come to public attention are expected but I will assure the people of Ghana that Volta Region is very peaceful for business.

You know we are along the eastern border of Ghana with Togo, and Aflao is the only town that shares boundary with the capital city of another country. So we have a lot of border activities but the security agencies are on top of their job.

RQD: What is your take on the Ghana IMF negotiations?

AYL: We expect that the programme will help the country out of its current challenges. Ghanaians should remember that President Akufo-Addo came to power in January 2017, when there was already an IMF programme it inherited.

Even with the IMF programme, the government started the Free SHS, Planting For Food And Jobs and other social interventions. So it is not because of IMF that social intervention programmes must stop. We still had the opportunity to introduce the social interventions programmes and then tried to work our way out of the IMF which we did successfully and our economy was actually growing up to 2017, 2018, 2019 the Ghana economy was growing until COVID struck.

RQD: Mr Minister please your last words

AYL: Thank you for the opportunity. I want to say that Volta Region is open to everybody. Investors and tourists. We are promoting a lot of local tourism where we want Ghanaians to come and experience other parts of Ghana and Volta Region is where you have to come. I also want to appeal to us as Ghanaians to support the government as we are indeed all in this together.