Prestea-Himan Residents Demonstrate Over Poor Roads
Residents of Prestea-Himan in the Prestea-Himan Valley Municipality in the Western Region have staged a peaceful demonstration to demand immediate construction of the 19km road linking the town to the municipal capital, Bogoso.
The angry residents say they felt cut off and ignored as several appeals to the government through the sector ministry for the construction of the main road linking the Prestea-Himan to Bogoso-Tarkwa Highway had not yielded any response.
They said the current bad state of the road to the town was a threat to the community, as it had made them unable to access health care in case of referral while collapsing the local economy and prolonging travel time.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Wisdom Cudjoe, joined the demonstrators made up of the youth and their leaders as well as other community members, who said they had been voting since the inception of the fourth republic but the road and other development projects were yet to receive attention.
The demonstrators said politicians in their SUVs always made it to the communities to campaign and solicit for votes when it was time for elections, saying they wanted the road fixed before the next elections.
One of the leaders of the demonstrators, Karibu Ibrahim, said the contribution of Prestea-Himan towards national development should not be forgotten.
“It is sad that the township that was once synonymous with gold and other minerals and is still producing gold should be neglected and the only road leading to the community has been left to deteriorate,” he said.
He said the fact remained that bad roads contributed negatively to development of every community, adding, “this is because transport systems in the area have become dormant, affecting economic activities, thereby leading to stagnant economic growth.”
The communities, he said, were currently at the mercy of the transport operators, as the torturous roads tremendously affected the cost of maintenance of their vehicles plying the roads in its current state, which led to frequent breakdowns.
“Let’s face the fact, the roads are currently a disincentive to investors and result in travelling discomfort for residents, movement of goods and services and we urge the government to add it to its list of priority roads as part of the year of roads declaration” he added.
The MP for the area, Mr Cudjoe, said a good road network was crucial in fighting poverty, and that the poor nature of the road was affecting access to employment, social life, health, education and other services.
“A good road and transport system remains an indispensable component of the economies of communities and plays a major role in spatial relations; helping create valuable links between communities and enhance economic activities, between people and the rest of the municipality and the adjoining communities and the region as a whole.
“But what we have here in Prestea-Himan and the municipality is an apology, considering the history of Prestea. We deserve better,” he said.
Message to government
“Our demonstration today is to send a message through the Western Regional Minister to the government, the sector minister and all duty bearers, that all is not well with us and the need to act is now,” he said.
“Let it be on record that traditional rulers have had discussions with the government, they travelled to complain about the road. I also filed urgent questions in Parliament about the same subject; however, the answers provided by the sector minister were unacceptable.”
“The sector minister in Parliament painted a picture that portions of the less than 20km Prestea-Bogoso road had been completed and that the contractor was on road marking – that was not true, you are here and you can attest to the state of the road currently,” he added.
The tortuous nature of the road, he said, was slowing down the growth of Prestea-Himan because “better road network and transport allow more trade and a greater spread of people, enhancing economic growth in the local economy.”
The Prestea-Himan communities, the MP said, have had enough of the promises; “the contractors are not on the road, contrary to what the sector minister said.
“We are rich in gold, also rich in the production of cocoa, rubber, tourism among others that when tapped would help contribute to the immediate and regional economy, create wealth and jobs for the people,” he said.
“Prestea-Himan,” he said, “is one of the mining towns of the country where gold was mined and refined on a large scale while other minerals mined include manganese, iron ore and bauxite and is the headquarters of the Prestea Oil Palm Estates – we need to bring back that glory.
“At present, investors are not willing to come to Prestea-Himan owing to the deplorable nature of the road network and we cannot continue watching investors walk away after visiting and expressing interest to return no more,” he lamented.
The MP expressed the hope that the government would consider Prestea-Himan to ensure that at least something was done about the road in question.