By Benjamin Mensah, GNA
Accra, Feb 15, GNA - The inability of going on
foot around Lake Bosomtwi, in the Ashanti Region, is a challenge to all the 24
communities around the lake.
It makes it difficult for the communities to derive maximum benefits for the tourist site. It has therefore become imperative to construct an accessible road to the lake, and institute measures to revamp the tourist site, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, Minister Designate for the Ashanti Region, has said.
“You will not believe that you cannot even go on foot around the Lake so what we need now is an accessible road to the Lake so that all the 24 communities spotted around the Lake can benefit from the Tourist site,” Mr Osei-Mensah, 55, who also holds a Masters degree in Economics, told the Appointments Committee before when he appeared for vetting.
The nominee, who held various positions within the Agricultural Development Bank from 1993 to 2000, a former Member of Parliament for Bosomtwi, and former Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, said he would initiate and promote the construction of a “proper receptive centre “to provide a selling point for useful artifacts.
He promised to lead in the construction of a road around the Lake to make the area more accessible and champion a tree-planting and forest regeneration project around the lake, with the aim of attracting more tourists and generating more revenue from the tourist site.
The Minister Designate, during the one-hour interview, was commended by both Majority and Minority Members on the committee, who complimented the nominee on his excellent human relations.
The Committee had earlier vetted Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, Minister Designate for Western Region, who noted that the Region had one of the poorest road networks in the country, despite being endowed with most of the natural resources.
He urged the Government to commit more resources for the development of the infrastructure of the Western Region, because it contributed a lot to the development of the country.
“About 65 per cent of the cocoa produced in Ghana is from the Western Region. The region also produces gold, manganese and oil.”
The nominee however noted that illegal mining activities “galamsey” had heavily contaminated and destroyed water bodies, and left farmlands degraded.
On child labour, on which United States Department of State had recently marked Ghana down, in the agriculture sector, and in particular the cocoa sector, the Western Region Minister Designate said: “You will be surprised that child labour per say is not a big issue in the cocoa industry in Ghana now. You have to segregate the cultural dimensions of our social setup from what people label as child labour,” he explained to the vetting committee.
“That child labour thing especially in the cocoa industry, I am happy to report, is largely and grossly exaggerated in this country because it gives our country a bad image.
“This problem is an image problem which is intertwined with our cultural values. If you come to my village and at about 4 pm, you will find a child turning the cocoa over, I do not classify that as child labour.”
“I am not denying that you will not get a case of child labour or child abuse in this society. All I am saying is, that kind of stigmatisation, the child labour thing has got its own cultural dimension that they will lump all together,” Dr. Afriyie said
He admitted that child labour was a hindrance to the progress of children and a liability to national development and promised to work with the Traditional Authorities to mobilize all efforts and policies towards addressing the challenge.
“I believe that we have all the tools to make sure that existing laws are enforced, he noted adding “As a Regional Minister I will be liaising with the MMDAs, especially in the coastal belt to find out the nature of the problem. We’ll adopt a carrot and stick approach. We’ll enforce the law, but we will make sure we go through the traditional authorities”.
The nominee, a former Minister of Health in the former President Kufour Administration, under the New Patriotic Party (NPP), promised to put in efforts, especially in the fishing areas in the region to lower the incidence of child labour.
“We’ll make sure that we use the various fisher folk organisations to make education mandatory especially for children under 16 years,” he said.