Resettling coastal communities at different locations is not a workable solution against flooding and tidal wave devastations in Ghana, Mr Isaac Kwame Asiamah, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Works and Housing has said.
Mr Asiamah who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Atwima Mponua constituency, observed that aside from the high cost involved in relocation, the cultural ties of the people to their communities made it extremely challenging for governments to undertake any such venture.
“The people will not buy into the idea of resettlement. Per our advice as government, the people will want to be where they are for obvious reasons, including history, culture, occupation, and other issues,” he said.
Already, the Committee had visited similar projects in the Greater Accra and Volta Regions to assess the progress and quality of work done.
In all, there are eight ongoing coastal protection infrastructure projects in the country.
The Cape Coast project which costs about GHC460 million was said to be 80 per cent complete while that of Komenda estimated at $46 million was 96 per cent complete.
Work was ongoing at the Cape Coast and Komenda sites when the Committee showed up.
Tidal waves continue to terrorise many coastal communities in the country and there have been several calls on the government to resettle such communities away from the coasts, but Mr Asiamah insisted that despite the expensive nature of the projects, lives need to be protected, adding that it was the best approach to resolving coastal flooding and erosion.
He said the Committee was impressed with the quality of work done so far and commended the contractors, Vuluxx Company Limited for Cape Coast and Elmina, and Amandi Company which was doing that of Komenda for the excellent work done so far.
Contrary to fears that the sea defence projects could destroy beach tourism, Mr Asiamah said they were enhancing tourism along the coast and stressed the need to explore the tourism potential of coastal defence projects and leverage them.
“Now you can walk all the way from here to the Elmina Castle but in the past one could not do that. So, for me, this sea defence is providing a unique attraction for tourism,” he added.
Touching on sand winning along the coasts, the chairman of the Select Committee observed that investment in sea defence infrastructure would be the most effective way to prevent people from engaging in the act.
“We need to educate our people to understand that sand winning causes flooding and erosion and people should stop engaging in the nefarious practice.
Meanwhile, Mr Vincent Oppong Asamoah, the Ranking Member of the Committee, expressed disappointment over government’s decision to award nearly all the contracts through sole sourcing, describing it as “problematic”.
He said that even though “excellent” work had been done, he believed that the country could have saved some money if the contract had gone through competitive bidding.
“Because the money is taxpayers’ money, we expect that all the procurement processes should be used and not only sole sourcing. who knows, once it is competitive bidding, there is the likelihood that you will get value for bidding” he said.
“Before the New Patriotic Party came into power, these were the same issues they spoke against. Even though a good job is done and a Ghanaian contractor won the bid which is very good, in future, we need to open it to other competitors to also bid for projects like these,” he added.
He said they would report the situation to Parliament to address the issue.
Mr Ehud Derive, the project Manager indicated that it comprised a three-kilometer sea defence, a landing bay, a market, a 55-metre bridge connecting Dutch Komenda and British Komenda, and a road connecting the main Komenda road.
Some fishers and community members in Komenda, however, raised concerns about the project, insisting that it had been poorly executed.
They said the project was done without recourse to their numbers and operations as fishers.
They said the landing bay that had been constructed was too narrow and could, therefore, not contain the over 500 fishing boats in the area.
“Even though the work has been done, it is rather posing danger to our livelihood. We were expecting them to expand the area a little further to contain us,” Mr Kweku Awotwe, a fisherman fumed.