Upper West Chiefs,Farmers Go Wild on Govt Over €35m Euros Road Facility

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Four (4) Districts in the Upper West Region have petitioned the government to factor them into beneficiaries of the €35m euros road facility funded by the European Union.

The Districts namely; Wa East, Sissala East, Sissala West and Lambussie have accused government of delibrate neglect in the recently launched facility.

Pressing home their demand yesterday in a press conference held in Tumu in the Upper West Region, the concern citizens have pointed out that their communities have larger farming activities hence the government should fix their farm roads.

As part of their demands, the group asked the Ministry of Roads and Highways publish the selection criteria for the sake of transparency and accountability.

Below is the copy of the petition:

PETITION BY THE SISSALA CHIEFS AND FARMERS OF THE EXCLUDED DISTRICTS UNDER THE EUROPEAN UNION €35 MILLION EURO GRANT FUNDED SELECTED FEEDER AND FARM ACCESS ROADS(670.10KM) IN THE UPPER WEST REGION OF GHANA

  1. Following the launch of the above programme on Tuesday 18th of May, 2021 by the Ministry of Roads and Highways together with the European Union Delegation and the World Bank Group, we the chiefs and people of Wa East, Sissala East, Sissala West and Lambussie Districts got the impression that the programme is intended to benefit the people of the Upper West Region as a whole. It is our firm belief that the programme is aimed at improving inter-connectivity between areas of production of Agricultural crops and market centres in the Upper West Region.That being the case, our respective communities should have been given priority too.
  2. The reasons are not difficult to appreciate. The current state of the road infrastructure in the region shows without any doubt that the excluded Districts are the most deprived in that regard. When it comes to food production too, the excluded districts produce the bulk of staple foods (Maize, Groundnuts and Soya) in the region compared to others. Sadly, however, no single road in any of our communities has been included in the above program. It is against our total exclusion from a programme which should have taken our area as a priority that we make our present petition. Our petition is not aimed at discrediting any community which has been selected to benefit under the programme but to make a point for our inclusion in the programme.
  3. We the Chiefs and Smallholder Farmers inhabiting the Wa East, Sissala East , Sissala West and Lambussie Districts of the Upper West Region are of the opinion that our exclusion from the programme is unfair and inequitable, having regard to the existing road infrastructure situation of the region. We have the right to demand fairness, equity and social justice in the allocation and distribution of government development projects and programmes such as Feeder/Farm Access Roads. We therefore hereby petition your high office for urgent response to our grievances regarding the total exclusion of the above aforementioned farming districts from the benefits of the EU funded Farm Access Roads that has been launched on Tuesday 18 th of May, 2021 at Kpongu in the Wa Municipality.
  4. Per a press statement issued jointly by the Government of Ghana, the World Bank and the European Union notifying the Ghanaian public on the ground breaking ceremony of the project which states the aim of the grant support as “improving inter-connectivity between areas of production and market centers”
  5. Available data obtained from the Regional Department of Agriculture shows clearly that Sissla East, Wa East and Sissala West districts are the three leading producers of maize and other staple foods in the Upper West Region and by Extension Ghana at large. We collectively produce a total of 103,474.42 metric tons of maize in the 2019 farming season alone (SIRD 2019).
  6. This three High Volume Staple Food (Maize) producing Districts in the Upper West Region also happen to have the poorest or better still worse feeder/farm access road network in the Upper West Region and by extension the rest of Ghana based on official data obtained from the Department of Feeder Roads. There are several farming communities in WA East, Sissala East and Sissala West that has no access road at all except foot paths.
  7. The Chiefs and Farmers in the Four High Producing Agriculture Districts for far too long have lamented to government after government and development partners about the total neglect of the deplorable and almost non-existent farm access road network in the farming districts thus denying the poor farmers access to markets centres which has the potential of worsening household incomes from farm produce and contribute to widening the poverty gap.
  8. The official data on high staple food producing areas with the worse or almost non-existent farm access roads in the Upper West Region leaves any objective decision maker or observer with no doubt that the exclusion of Wa East, Sissala East and Sissala West from the EU funded 35 Million Euro Farm access roads project which aims at “improving inter-connectivity between areas of production and market centers” is not only an aberration but a grave social injustice against the people inhabiting those districts.
  9. The criteria for selecting the beneficiary districts clearly is not born out of adequate evaluation of proper data that looks at production levels and the severity of the need for feeder roads. It is obvious that if you traverse Upper West Region for the 1st time, it is easily noticeable that the aforementioned districts stands out as the most deprived and perhaps neglected districts on issues of feeder roads or farm access roads compared to the current beneficiary districts of the EU funded farm access road projects in the Region.
  10. The 2010 Ghana Living Standard Survey puts the Sissala West as the poorest district in the Region. The position of Sissala East, Lambussie and Wa East are equally not enviable and or proud to be associated with, though ironically we labour as much to feed the Region and by extension the whole country on grains and cereals for the past two decades. The survey clearly reveals a consistent intent to neglect the four Sissala Districts over the years with current inequity on the road contracts being one of them.
  11. These consistent neglect makes us wonder whether the objective of the breakaway from the Upper Region( which was to ensure fair and equitable distribution of state projects and programs) to form the Upper West Region in 1983 was worth the sweat and toil put in by our forebears. And of course a zeal in the need for further split of the Region in the near distant future.
  12. We indicate here therefore that the insensitivity of the committee chairman thus exhibited in presiding over the awards of these contracts is not only intending to fuel tribal sentiments between Sissalas and other tribes in the Region, but also an incompetent demonstration of his inability to facilitate and execute a rather fine government policy of Ghana beyond aid, which of course hinges on the backbone of self sufficiency in food production of which access to market centres facilitated by good road network is prime in the agricultural value chain.

Our Demands are simple and basic which are listed below.

I. We hereby demand on the principle of transparency and accountability that the Ministry or Roads and Highways should publish the selection criteria that formed the basis for the inclusion or exclusion of beneficiary districts under the EU funded 670km farm access roads project.

II. We further demand that in the spirit of fairness, social justice and non-discrimination which are cardinal principals in the Ghanaian Constitution and values shared by the EU, a reprioritization and selection of the farm access roads be done based on production levels and severity of need.

III. Alternatively, we further demand that the Ministry of Roads and Highways should immediately find additional resources to create, rehabilitate and maintain the abandoned farm access roads in the four aforementioned excluded farming districts under the EU funded project.

IV. We wish to state emphatically that this petition is not against any district benefiting from the EU Funded Farm Access Roads Project. We are demanding for fairness, equity, social justice and non-discrimination in the selection, allocation and distribution of development projects (roads).

V. We wish to mention herein that a framework to resolve the issues mentioned herein has been attached for stakeholders study. It is our hope that in the shortest possible time, our grievances will be attended to for an amicable solution to be reached to further calm aggrieved youth and focus groups likely to advise themselves otherwise should they not behold remedies forthcoming.

No Activity Description Stakeholders involve Timeframe Expected Results

  1. Responds to petition to publish criteria Government of Ghana and Donor funding agency 5 working days after petition is received/Aired on media Excluded Districts received and acknowledge responds
    2 First meeting with affected districts at the Regional level Affected District Reps, Regional Minister, Roads and Highways Department Ten working days after petition received or aired on media Meeting held and resolve issues of interest at the Regional level
    3 Second meeting with affected districts at the National level Ministry of Roads and Highway, Minstry of Food and Agriculture, Office of the Vice President, Regional Minister, Reps of affected districts, Donor funding agencies Date to be determined by Regional Minister/ASAP Meeting held and conflict resolved with clear way forward on issue
    4 Reaching a consensus on redistribution criteria on roads, Ministry of Roads and Highway, Minstry of Food and Agriculture, Office of the Vice President, Regional Minister, Reps of affected districts, Donor funding agencies One week after the second meeting at the National level Redistribution criteria identified and implemented by Roads and Highways and Ministry of Agriculture
    5 Grounds breaking for redistributed and re-awarded contracts to commence Ministry of Roads and Highway, Minstry of Food and Agriculture, Office of the Vice President, Regional Minister, Reps of affected districts, Donor funding agencies Date to be determined by GoG and Donor funding agencies Ceremony held at one designated place to represent all districts and names of awarded contractors published/ shared with beneficiary communities.

Copied,
1) The Head of the European Union Delegation
2) Ministry of Agriculture
3) Office of the Vice President
4) Upper West Regional Minister

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