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Unemployment: biggest challenge in Takoradi

BY: Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu & Augustina D. Dzodzegbe
Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah — MP for Takoradi
Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah — MP for Takoradi

The Takoradi Constituency, one of the three constituencies in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis in the Western Region, is a safe seat for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Apart from 1992 when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) won the parliamentary seat, all other elections have been won by the NPP.

It is believed by political analysts that the victory of the NDC in 1992 was occasioned by the boycott of the parliamentary elections by the NPP.

With a current voter population of 52,343, the constituency was one of the earliest created by the Electoral Commission in the Fourth Republic.

The first NPP politician to capture the seat was Mrs Gladys Asmah, who was elected in 1996 and occupied the position until her retirement from active politics in 2008.

Her successor, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, a biochemist, who was elected in 2008 and assumed office in 2009, has been MP for three successive terms — 2009, 2013, 2017 — and has just begun his fourth term after winning the election last December.

Constituency within a city

Mr Darko-Mensah considers unemployment one of the biggest challenges facing the constituency.

That, he explained, was due to the fact that the constituency was within a city which had a large population of migrants from rural areas in search of jobs, hence the number of people without employment had grown.

He said the constituency, in the past, hosted many timber and cocoa-processing companies which had folded up. With the new oil find, he added, the expectations of many people had gone high, making them flood the metropolis seeking employment.

Creation of jobs, Mr Darko-Mensah said, had become his priority.

"I have always believed that when it comes to jobs in the formal sector, it is only five per cent who will be employed by the government,” he stated.

Therefore, he said the most important thing to do was to train and mentor them in entrepreneurship to enable them to start their own businesses.

He said a "Takoradi Youth Fund" had also been created to support skills training among the youth in areas vital to the national economy.

"We are looking at skills development that will create the competency needed in welding, fabrication, plumbing, dressmaking, catering and other skills required by mining and oil and gas industries in the region," he said.

According to him, a database of people who needed financial assistance had also been established, adding that such people had been granted small loans through a scheme he had set up.

The move is to make the beneficiaries create their own jobs and become self-sufficient.

Development projects

Mr Darko-Mensah said various development projects were ongoing in the constituency, including the reconstruction of the Takoradi Central Market, the dual carriageway to link the city to the port, as well as two interchanges at the Paa Grant and Kwame Nkrumah roundabouts.

He said the expansion of social infrastructure had become imperative due to the pressure on the existing physical facilities.

He said plans were also advanced to transform Sekondi-Takoradi into a financial hub.