President Evans Atta Mills arrived in the Brong Ahafo capital of Sunyani, Tuesday morning, to begin a three-day tour of the region, during which he would inspect and inaugurate some completed projects.
The President travelled on an Air Force Fokker 28 aircraft, which touched down at 1007 hours.
Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye Marfo, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, some Ministers of State from the region, Municipal and District Chief Executives and a large number of NDC functionaries and activists, as well as heads of departments met him on arrival. A programme released by the Regional Co-ordinating Council said President Mills would cut the sod for work to begin on a number of development projects.
He is also expected to meet and interact with the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs and their people. This is the President’s third visit to the region since he assumed office in 2009.
Addressing members of the Brong-Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs at the Conference Hall of the House, President Mills said his meeting with the chiefs was symbolic for the fact that, it was his first official meeting with them since his assumption of office. Speaking in his native language, Fanti, the President stressed that the NDC government was not in power for cronies and relatives but to seek the interest of all Ghanaians.
President Mills stated that though a lot of projects were being undertaken in the region, the Government was committed to carrying out more, to enhance the living conditions of the people in the region. He said Ghana was in the midst of countries where turmoil and chaos were prevailing situations, noting that, Ghana was not immune to such situations and appealed to all Ghanaians to collectively make efforts to maintain the prevailing peace in the country. The President emphasized that power was not given to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to govern the nation in the 2008 General Elections just for the sake of it, but to use it judiciously to advance the cause of the populace.
In a welcoming address, the Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye Marfo, announced that, since January 2009, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) had increased its client coverage from a total of 1,460,655 to 2,070,299, a percentage increase of 29.45.
He revealed that the government had paid a total of GHC94,624,569.05, as at the end of February 2011, as claims to the scheme’s service providers in the region.
“The clearing of the site for the construction of the Tain District Hospital has been completed and work on its construction will soon commence”, Mr Nyamekye Marfo stated.
The Regional Minister noted that, the region had remained largely peaceful since the assumption of power by the NDC government in 2009, but admitted there were a few security hotspots in relation to chieftaincy litigation, land disputes, armed robbery and allegations of ritual murders, among others.
In order to control these hotspots, the Regional Minister said the security agencies, in collaboration with the Regional Security Committee (REGSEC) and the various Municipal/District Security Councils, had collectively worked to contain them.
Mr Nyamekye Marfo said since the NDC government took over the administration of the nation, over the past two years, Brong-Ahafo had enjoyed a total of 567 educational projects, at the cost of GHC62, 503,110.63.
Provision of dormitories, libraries, classrooms, dining halls, administration blocks, staff quarters and science/ICT centres, furniture, among others, for Senior and Junior High Schools are projects meant to enhance teaching and learning in the educational sector in the region, he said.
The Regional Minister said the government had already provided 2,101,109 free exercise books to some basic schools, 92,311 free school uniforms to children in deprived areas and had also paid a total of GHC2, 664,046.50 as capitation grant to basic schools. He expressed appreciation to the President for the proposed establishment of the University for Energy and Natural Resources in the region, saying the institution would help increase access to tertiary education by the youth in the region and beyond. “It is our hope that actual construction of the university will start soon to facilitate the admission of students for the 2011/2012 academic year”, Mr Nyamekye Marfo said.
Mr Nyamekye Marfo added that, the Government has established a Midwifery Training School at Goaso, in the Asunafo district and had provided 34 pick-up trucks and 400 motorbikes for district health directorates, to facilitate the work of the health institutions in the districts.
The Regional Minister further noted that, the Municipal/District Assemblies had complemented the efforts of the central government in providing Community Health Initiative and Planning Services (CHIPS) facilities, classrooms for nursing institutions, construction/rehabilitation of hospital wards, among others, at a total cost of GHC813,777.39.
On Agriculture, Mr Nyamekye Marfo said a total of 10,245.30 hectares had been cultivated, under the Block Farming programme, in the region, with 354.40 hectares covering seed maize, 1,434.40 hectares for soya bean and 646.80 hectares for grain.
Mr Nyamekye Marfo said a total amount of GHC2,129,344.86 was spent on inputs, distributed to farmers during the period under review, stating that, the farmers were expected to make an in-kind refund of 67,670.02 bags from their produce.
The Regional Minister said the government had spent GHC147,068,179.42 on 142.0 kilometres of three development projects, 151.0 kilometres of 14 maintenance projects, grass-cutting, desilting, grading and pothole patching, under the Highway sub-sector. Over the two-year period, the Department of Feeder Roads has spent a total of GHC17,904,388.81 in improving the state of feeder roads in the region, he added.
Mr Nyamekye Marfo announced that, the Department of Urban Roads had since 2009 spent a total of GHC1,227.087 on drainage works, pothole patching, grading of selected roads, box culvert and gravelling, among others.
He said in addition, the Municipal/District Assemblies had purchased 16 earth-moving machines, at the total cost of GHC3.4 million, from their share of District Assembly Common Fund (DACF), to support the work of the Departments in improving the rural roads and also improving the state of access roads in the Municipalities and District capitals.
Osahene Kwaku Aterkyi II, Kukuomhene and president of the Regional House of Chiefs, on behalf of the House expressed appreciation of the chiefs for the establishment of the University of Energy and Natural Resources in the region and appealed to the President for additional two or three more campuses of the University to add to the already three proposed campuses. He explained that the additional campuses would help for 93even distribution across the whole region”.
The president of the House reiterated the chiefs’ call on the government to ensure 93a full fledged University, as was done in the case of the University for Development Studies (UDS), as announced by His Excellency during the sod-cutting ceremony”. Osahene Aterkyi requested government to increase the wages of staff of the Regional Houses of Chiefs to encourage efficiency of service. He expressed disgust about the use of foul language by some individuals and panelists on some radio talk shows, saying that negative development on some of the nation’s airwaves was an affront to the body politic of the country and needed to be corrected. President Mills has since left Sunyani to Mim where he is expected to commission a six-unit classroom GETFUND project for the local Senior High School.
From Mim the President will move to Goaso to inspect the Midwifery Training School and later to Kenyase to commission a six-unit block GETFUND project for the Methodist Junior High School and two four unit Junior Staff Quarters at Kenyase.