Ackon-Mensah asks: Central Region, a helpless victim of unplanned projects?

The John Evans Atta Mills Presidential Library in Cape Coast
The John Evans Atta Mills Presidential Library in Cape Coast

Its diverse national accolades have in the past and recent years, been contrasted with very unfortunate tags on itself.

It is the fourth poorest region in the country despite its agriculture, fishing and the high level of brisk business which goes on in one of its towns, which is arguably the most expanding urban area in West Africa, Kasoa.

The Central Region prides itself in its educational institutions, but a recent finding that left the Regional Minister, Kwamena Duncan, and other very concerned inhabitants of the Region fuming was that indigenes of the Region hardly access the best senior high schools here. The reason: poor performance in the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE).

A 2017 news report revealed how poverty and low level of education are worsening teenage pregnancy numbers coupled with significant levels of teenage prostitution. A total of 5,106 cases of teenage pregnancies were recorded between July and December 2016 alone.

Due to this inglorious picture, the Region has unfortunately assumed that any project, national or local, sited in it should be with the intent of alleviating its chief enemy, poverty.

It is thus heart-breaking to find diverse projects carried out in the region wasting away, despite the sweet talk from politicians who claim to have the interest of the region at heart.

The CEDECOM irony

The Central Region Development Commission (CEDECOM), was specifically established to spearhead the reduction of poverty and to facilitate the development of the Region. In fact, as a means of ultimately deleting the poverty tag.

It is of great relevance to the Region that every Regional Minister who heads the Region is the default Board Chairman of the Commission.

A lot of funds have been injected into CEDECOM by governments over the years with the aim of alleviation aim of alleviating poverty in the Central Region. In 2009 for example, the late President Atta Mills promised it GHC 5.2 million, and the Commission later admitted receiving “some chunk of money”.

That was good news! But what did the Region witness? Several mind-boggling decisions have been taken by CEDECOM that makes every follower of the Commission wonder what is wrong with its handlers. Let me feed you with only three of them.

CEDECOM spent GHC 612,000 to construct a rest stop for commercial purposes on a marshy piece of land at Ekumfi Eyisam on the Accra-Cape Coast highway. The rest stop currently wastes away overgrown with weeds, years after its construction. The only time the facility saw some life was a one-day programme on the premises, where the current President, Akufo-Addo, launched the first of the factories under the One District-One Factory Policy, that is to produce pineapple juice in the Ekumfi area.

Another CEDECOM irony is the use of GHC 220,000 by the Commission to construct a fence wall around the Agona Swedru cemetery. Yes, around a public cemetery! That was a decision.

There is also the CEDECOM piggery project drama. The project that was recorded in the Commission’s 2011 projects records as having swallowed GHC100,000 was initially claimed to be at Assin Manso, but was never seen there, only for the people of the Region to be later told it had been moved to Assin Ando – and the piggery drama goes on.

All the above and other CEDECOM decisions have been taken in the Central Region where the youths are craving jobs that could simply minimize the poverty it is plagued with.

Central Region continues to be Ghana’s fourth poorest Region, years after CEDCOM’s creation, while no serious probe has been carried out to let people answer why those decisions were taken.

The Komenda Sugar Factory show

At a colourful event at the historical town of Komenda in 2016, ex-President John Mahama inaugurated the $35 million Indian EXIM Bank loan project meant to produce sugar to save the country the hundreds of millions of dollars it spends on sugar importation.

The factory was also projected to create over 7,300 jobs, most of which would have probably been for people in the Central Region.

The Komenda Sugar Factory

That was visionary, wasn’t it? Yet those who established the magnificent factory, whose construction began in 2014, failed to realise that the raw materials needed for sugar production, sugarcane, had to be available for the factory to run.

The factory is also wasting away now, but the other side of the vision that requires providing the factory with 225,000 metric tonnes of sugarcane for the factory to operate at optimum capacity is yet to be realized by the nation.

That is pathetically another embellishment of the Central Region with no proper planning, killing hopes of the natives and Ghanaians at large, and the Region appears shortchanged again!

The John Evans Atta Mills Presidential Library

It is a project the current Regional Minister, Kwamena Duncan, has publicly described as a purely private facility meant to honour the late Atta Mills, but the digital library is yet to be fully used as it is now under lock and key.

Ghanaians were made to understand the Library was going to be in the hands of the University of Cape Coast, but a recent explanation by the institution has revealed no official documentation exists to that effect.

The John Evans Atta Mills Presidential Library in Cape Coast

The contractor for the project has reportedly shut down the facility because of a failure to pay him some monies owed him since 2016.

The monument shares a neighbourhood with the Cape Coast Castle, and has a 100-capacity auditorium, a 45-seater multimedia centre, seminar rooms and a museum meant for keeping historical materials and works by or on the late President.

By all standards, it is a good centre for the research purposes attached to it; however, it appears to be the next major project in the Region to go defunct.

The shock of those who are passionate about the Central Region, is the flamboyance and pageantry that surround many sod-cutting and inauguration of projects here, only for such projects to get abandoned or fail to impact lives.

Moving around the Region and observing the people as well as communicating with residents on issues, show how they yearn to see their lives improved by those who profess love to them, but it is apparent their hopes may continue to be unattainable as Ghana as a whole continues to battle for proper planning and policy implementation.

It is also clear the people of the Central Region would want to have answers to the numerous questions on their minds, on why some particular decisions were taken on their behalf, most of which are a clear slap in the face.

By: Joseph Ackon-Mensah

Email: [email protected]