8 November 2004

Ghana: Atebubu Benefits From German Gov't

Atebubu — ATEBUBU, a sprawling town in the Brong Ahafo Region is arguably one of the leading food production zones in the country.

For decades since the town became a hub of commerce that attracted traders and farmers from all walks of life, there had been nothing good to write home about Atebubu's market.

The traders and farmers who patronize the market usually have to contend with muddy grounds and temporary dilapidated structures, which serve as stalls, not forgetting the inconveniences they have to go through during the rainy season.

But with the intervention of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through the Ghana German Co-operation, this gloomy story of the Atebubu market is now part of history. A multi billion modern market complex and Lorry Park was commissioned in May 2000 to save the situation.

The total cost of the market project, which commenced May 1999 and was completed in May 2000 was ¢3.1billion.

Briefing reporters during a familiarization visit to Atebubu last Tuesday, the Counselor for Development Cooperation at the German Embassy, Mrs. Dorothea Groth, said the Atebubu market complex project was part of the German government's support for decentralization and strengthening the local government concept in the country.

She said under the German Development Cooperation, the Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) German Government financing Agency provided funding for the market and lorry park, with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) also providing all the technical demands for the execution of the project.

"It is always good to help empowered rural people because if they are well resourced and self-sustainable, they would not be struggling to migrate from one country to another to look for greener pastures. Instead, they would prefer to stay in the country and contribute towards the development of Ghana," Dorothea told The Chronicle in a chat.

She said the project was part of the District Capitals and District Towns' Projects and urged the management and beneficiaries to take good care of the project in order to reap its full benefits.

Dorothea said under Ghana-German co-operation through promotion of district capitals and district towns projects, selected urban infrastructural facilities are constructed or rehabilitated, adding, the projects which were selected included economic infrastructure such as markets and lorry parks, which had the potential to increase the Districts' revenues as well as schools, health centers and water supplies, which improve the communities' access to vital social facilities.

"In addition, the districts are assisted to build up their capacity for planning and implementing urban infrastructural facilities and for operating and maintaining them in sustainable ways with the ownership vested in the districts."

According to Dr. Wolfgang Weth, Country Director of KfW, his organization paid 90% of the total cost of the project, Ghana government bore 5% of the remaining 10%, while the Atebubu community catered for the outstanding 5% to keep the project on course.

He said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development was the implementation agent.

According to him, the facilities provided under the financial package in the main Atebubu Market and Lorry Park comprised 298 lockable shops and butchers' shop covering 124m and 216 open stalls.

The rest are a clinic/ First Aid point, 10-seater Aqua privy, cold store rooms and a paved lorry park covering 0.4 hectares.

Dr Wolfram Fischer, leader of the GTZ team expressed his satisfaction about the performance of the new Atebubu Market Management Committee (AMMC), which was responsible for the day-to-day manning of the market and intimated that even though the German Government had no share in the revenues generated from the market, it could not stay aloof for resources and investment, both technical and financial injected into the project to go waste without meeting the goals for which the project was undertaken.

"Our interest is to ensure that the beneficiaries get the best from our projects," Fischer said.

Briefing the press, Mr. Amankwah Kokro, chairman of the AMMC said since taking over management of the market last June, his team had been able to settle all the outstanding bills left behind by his predecessors.

He said what prompted AMMC's appointment to take over running of the market from the Atebubu Market and Lorry Park Company (AMLPC) Ltd. was the latter's lack of transparency in handling revenues collected from traders.

"The AMLPC Ltd was fired when it became obvious that they were not paying the Assembly's shares of the revenue from the market and other outstanding bills like electricity and the payment of workers' salaries," he explained.

He said his management team had adopted an open door policy that paved way for the involvement of all the stakeholders to be part of the decision- making process.

According to Amankwah, what made his team the more acceptable was the transparency that was being displayed by the AMMC.

He said the long term plans of the AMMC included rehabilitating the Atebubu yam market and putting up a day-care center to cater for the wards of the market women and others.

Amankwa, who is contesting the Atebubu seat as an Independent candidate from the camp of the NDC, commended the German Government for its commitment to rural development.

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