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Kejetia, Kumasi Central Market projects laudable

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has expressed concern that the financial situation of the country could delay the start of the joint Kejetia and Kumasi Central Market redevelopment project this year.

He indicated that it was a good project and would want it to be done at a fast pace.

The government promised that the project, which is meant to change the face of Kumasi, would start this year.

The Kumasi Central Market, described as the biggest open market in West Africa, is in a dire state.

Poor development, coupled with fire outbreaks, has rendered the market unsafe for the thousands of people who do business at the place every day.

Numerous promises by successive governments to rebuild it have not been fulfilled.

However, the current government has taken a seemingly positive step to replace the old market with a modern facility alongside a redeveloped Kejetia lorry terminal.

The project is a joint venture between the governments of Brazil and Ghana.

The Brazilians are, however, demanding sovereign guarantee for the project.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Kwasi Oppong Fosu, and the Brazilian Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Irene Galla, as well as contractors for the project (from Brazil), were at the Manhyia Palace to show a conceptual design of the project to the Asantehene.

The contractors took time to explain the project model to the Asantehene and how it is going to change the face of Kumasi when completed.

Though impressed with the idea of the project,  and especially the model that was presented to him at the Manhyia Palace, the Asantehene was doubtful about how funds would be raised for the project.

'I am aware that the government is tight on its finances this year and to carry on the project would demand a lot. I doubt if the government could provide the needed sovereign guarantee for the project to take off this year,' he said.

Consequently, Otumfuo Osei Tutu advised the two governments to objectively discuss the financing of the project to ensure that it did not remain on the drawing board.

He suggested that Brazil could offer a loan to Ghana to undertake the project, payment of which could be spread over a long period.

It has been planned that the project will take about four-and-a-half years to complete, once it starts this year.

Among others, it would comprise a drainage system, sewer collection and disposal system, water distribution, fire detection and combat infrastructure, energy distribution, and waste collection and disposal.

Others include road adjustment to ease traffic in the area, proper air circulation throughout the market, and phased implementation to avoid conflicts with traders.

Mr Oppong-Fosu was emphatic about  the government's commitment to see the project through.

He explained that few processes were left, including cabinet and parliamentary approvals, for the project to take off.

He expressed the government's determination to see to the modernisation of markets in the country.

Ms Galla  said Brazil saw the project as a significant bridge 'to bring our country closer to the people of  the Ashanti Kingdom.'

Later at a forum to display the models to market queens to solicit their inputs, if any, the traders were captivated but appeared wary because of the obvious financial burden that they would have to shoulder if the project was to take off.

One of them, Maame Abena Tia, complained that they had recently lost everything through fire and had to resort to the banks for loans to reconstruct their stalls.

'We are already faced with the challenge of paying those bank loans. How are we going to be able to raise funds for deposits?' she asked.

By Kwame Asare Boadu

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