By Erica Apeatua Addo, GNA
Damang (W/R), July 12, GNA - The 33-kilometer reconstructed Tarkwa-Damang Highway in the Western Region has been commissioned by Gold Fields Ghana Limited at Damang in the Prestea Huni/Valley Constituency to boost economic activities in the area.
The $27 million project, which is equivalent to GHC145 million, was funded by Gold Fields through its shared-valued initiative, and it is aimed at promoting the socio-economic development of its host communities.
The asphalted road which has a life span of more than 20 years was constructed by four local construction companies selected by the Ghana Highway Authority.
Commissioning the road, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, Western Regional Minister, said government attaches importance to the provision of infrastructure using its own annual budgetary allocations and also seeks funding from other development partners.
Mr Darko-Mensah, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Takoradi, said a major strategy as a country, was to seek partnerships adding that “that is why we have in place, a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) policy, in order that communities don’t wait too long in getting what they deserve in terms of good roads, health facilities, good drinking water”.
He said as a region, endowed with agricultural, forestry, fishery, mining oil and gas resources which have drawn in multi-national companies as well as local businesses and private entrepreneurs, the Western Region, should not be in need if government budgetary interventions delays.
This, he said, was because the companies and individual entrepreneurs do add to the strengths and opportunities of the region.
The Regional Minister urged political leaders, traditional authorities and community members, especially the youth to co-operate and collaborate to ensure that the business entities do more for the area.
Mr Nick Holland, Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gold Fields, said the Tarkwa-Damang Highway was so far their largest-ever community investment project anywhere in the world.
He said when they decided to rehabilitate the road in 2016, their focus was to ensure the safety of their employees and residents in its host communities who have hosted them over the past 25 years.
Mr Holland said this makes the road a classic “Shared Value” project that holds benefits both for the business entities and its stakeholders.
The Group CEO said as a leading global mining company, they were aware of the huge responsibility that they bear to the environment, their employees, host communities, shareholders and the Government of Ghana.
Mr Holland said the firm would share the value that mining creates not just with their employees and shareholders, but with all other affected stakeholders.
Since the establishment of the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation in 2004, they have invested over US$87 million in community projects and programmes in various sectors such as health, education, agriculture, water and sanitation, he said.
Mr Holland said as a Mine their attention was not only on providing physical infrastructure, but they were also committed to developing the human capital among its workforce and host communities.
He said, “These two go hand-in-hand and we are proud to say that almost 75 per cent of our workforce hail from the communities around us here, employing members from our host communities is one of the best ways of creating economic benefits for the towns and villages that are adjacent to our mines”.
Mr Alfred Baku, the Executive Vice President and Head of Gold Fields West Africa Region, said the rehabilitation of the Tarkwa-Damang Road has been a high priority project for the Damang Mine Community Consultative Committee (DMCCC), which is made up of the chiefs and people of Bosomtwe, Damang, Subri, management of Abosso Goldfields Limited and local government authorities.
He used the opportunity to thank the hard-working contractors, Ghana Highway Authority, and the Road Implementation Committee established by the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation Board for a good work done.
He said as a Mine, they recognize the huge task ahead in developing the country and the fact that government alone cannot meet all developmental needs of host communities.
“Even though we try our best to meet the expectations of communities hosting our operations, our stakeholders must also recognize that shareholders who invested money in the operations, including government which has free-carried interest, expect dividend payments” Mr Baku said.
He urged government to return an adequate proportion of the mineral royalty to the mining communities to augment their efforts.
Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, Minister of Tourism and Creative Art and the Member of Parliament for Prestea Huni/Valley Constituency, called on other mining companies in his constituency to come forward with proposals for similar projects in their area.
She said “the Huni-Valley to Bogoso and Bogoso-Prestea roads are in need of urgent attention. These roads are within the catchment area of the two significant leading mining companies in Prestea Huni-Valley namely Gold Fields and Golden Star Resources and you are the ones who can construct to the right standard required for the heavy duty trucks that ply the road”
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi promised mining companies working in her constituency that any proposal they tabled would receive the required attention from government.
Nana Kwabina Amponsah IV, Divisional Chief of Bosomtwe, who could not hide his joy praised Gold Fields for fixing the road that was a major concern to them.
He urged Gold Fields to also rehabilitate the Aboso, Huni-Valley, Bompieso-Amoanda and Damang town roads as it was part of the Tarkwa-Damang road project.
Obaahemaa Nana Abena Kunadjoa II, queen mother of Wassa Fiase Traditional Area, who chaired the function, urged drivers to be extra careful on the road to help ensure sanity on the road.
She expressed her displeasure at the deplorable state of the Ahwetieso to Bogoso junction Highway and appealed to government to construct that stretch of road to bring some relief to travelers and people in the area.