Sunday, August 24, 2008

ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES DYING IN TWIN-CITY (PAGE 25)

TAKORADI is said to have been a lively, prosperous and a flourishing city many years ago, perhaps as a result of the booming activities at the Takoradi Harbour, as well as the ever-running railway system and its lucrative timber industry.
These economic activities gave employment to many people, including the youth, especially in the harbour, with its numerous ocean vessels which produced many seamen in Sekondi/Takoradi.
Now, all these activities have drastically reduced, particularly the railway system, as well as the timber industry.
This has seriously affected the socio-economic development of Sekondi/Takoradi.
It is to restore the twin city to its former glory that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentary candidate for the Takoradi Constituency, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, came out clearly with his vision, which would be implemented if voted into power as the Member of Parliament.
He said Takoradi had a great potential for accelerated development and that this could be achieved through the co-operation of all stakeholders.
However, he added that in coming out with pragmatic programmes to achieve this, “we need not forget the functional linkage with Sekondi, as well as with the other adjoining communities”.
We must, therefore, work as a team so that Sekondi/Takoradi will be the twin city of Africa and also reflect the adage, ‘the best is in the west”, he explained.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic Mr Darko-Mensah further explained that the Takoradi Harbour, the western railway line, the airport, hardworking human resources and the efficient road network to and from the city, the numerous tourism facilities, as well as the recent discovery of oil in the region, presented a great potential that could be tapped for the socio-economic development of the city.
Explaining his vision for the twin city, noted that the sorry state of the railway system was a combination of factors such as political, managerial and labour problems, adding, “It is time to take hard decisions to continuously keep the railway surviving and prosperous.”
“I believe a lasting solution would be public-private partnership, which would attract related private sector operators such as the Ghana Manganese Company, Ghana Bauxite Company, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, and Forestry Commission, Shippers Council,” he explained.
He said he believed this would bring on board the right mix of quasi-government organisations and private multinationals to safeguard the fortunes of the company, which supported thousands of Ghanaian employees, as well as their households and directly contributed to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
According to Mr Darko-Mensah, the railway central mechanical workshop at Ketan, near Sekondi, popularly known as ‘Location’, could be re-capitalised to serve as a subsidiary of the mother company to provide first-class engineering services to the oil industry.
Touching on the harbour, he emphasised that he would continue to champion the modernisation of the Takoradi Harbour to better serve its customers and the emerging oil industry in such a way that would make it the first port of call for shippers.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the free zone enclave would be promoted to create jobs and also provide part of the needed traffic for the Takoradi Port.
He noted that the human resources of every society were the instrument of change and agents of development and as such, education would form the foundation of the city’s growth strategy.
To be able to perform this role effectively, he said the people needed a combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes which could only be delivered through a well-structured educational system.
“My strategy under education is to team up with stakeholders to ensure the effective functioning of school management committees, intensify supervision and advocate strongly for incentive packages for teachers,” he said, adding, “There shall be a back-to-school programme to retain boys and girls in school, especially in the poor communities within the constituency”, saying, “In this way, we will secure our future and be at the helm of our own affairs”.
The parliamentary aspirant also said vocational and technical training would be given priority attention, including the establishment of a business and technology university, with emphasis on courses that could train people to maintain a clean environment and introduce a “no littering campaign”, explaining that “the local government structures will be used to mobilise the people for regular clean-up exercises with appropriate incentive packages for deserving communities”.
“One important achievement in the health care system is the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)”, saying that when voted into power, he would use his allocation of the Members of Parliament (MPs) Common Fund to support registration of at least 2,000 people under the scheme.
Mr Darko-Mensah said the government still believed that the private sector was the engine of growth and, therefore, would continue to create an enabling environment for the private sector by providing socio-economic infrastructure for all communities.
The areas of priority, he said, should be community lighting, provision of roads in some specific areas such as New Takoradi, Airport Ridge and the 31st December/Essikafoabantam Number 1, as well as redevelopment of the Takoradi Central Market and lorry parks, and settlement upgrading programmes for the Zenith area and the type A, B and C areas to make Takoradi a modern city befitting its status.
“All these could be achieved through effective collaboration with agencies such as the Department of Urban Roads, the Sekondi/Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, UN HABITAT’s Slum Upgrading Facility (SUL), a“ he explained.

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