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Business News of Friday, 18 October 2013

Source: B&FT

We are fed up!

...Tema industrialists fume over rundown infrastructure

A decrepit road network, a stinking sewage system, and a growing slum in an industrial area have set industrialists in Ghana’s purposely built industrial city of Tema fuming over the relevance of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly and the Tema Development Corporation.

The industrialists and entrepreneurs say they are “sick and tired” of the deterioration of infrastructure in and around the harbour city, even as they are milked dry with about fifteen different fees and levies.

At the Tema Regional Annual General Meeting of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the captains of industry poured out their frustration over the rotten order of things in the metropolis in particular, and in the country in general, with some of them threatening not to pay levies and fees until authorities begin to do their work.

“People are happy just sitting there and taking money without doing what they are supposed to do,” said one enraged member.

“It looks as if we have lost completely the management of Tema; Tema really needs new planning,” said another.

“The situation is absolutely unacceptable; why are entrepreneurs treated this way? Why can’t we talk?” fumed James Asare Adjei, Vice Chairman of Tema Regional AGI and CEO of Asadtek Roofing, who spoke on the theme, “Making the Roads and Sewage System in Tema Impact Positively on Industrial Growth in Ghana.”

The AGI members would not hear a plea on behalf of the TMA that their role is limited to rehabilitating roads and not constructing new ones, which is done by central government.

“We have said, over and again, that even if the government cannot reconstruct the roads, the roads need to be rehabilitated such that they are motorable in the short to medium term,” Mr. Adjei said.

“We have completely disappointed our forefathers, particularly Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who had the vision to put Tema in place as an industrial hub. The least we could have done was to maintain what our forefathers put in place, and for that matter we should have continuously maintained the roads and the sewage system. You don’t expect a sewage line which is over 50 years to continue to function well,” he added.

The city is home to an oil refinery and numerous factories built by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as a model industrial city, alongside residential units. Today, however, the industrial part of the city exists side by side a growing number of slums, which industrialists say could spell doom for the country any day an explosion occurs from any of the factories.

In the 1960’s Tema had good roads to facilitate easy movement of vehicular traffic, people, goods and services. In 2013, the situation in Tema is a completely different story: the roads are in bad repair, while some are completely not tarred, and the tarred ones are riddled with potholes of varying deepness and spread.

The sewage system, for both domestic and industrial waste, is over 50 years old and in urgent need of repair. An amount of US$100 million is said to be needed to overhaul it, and the industrialists scuffed when a representative from the TMA suggested they come in to help.

Chairman of the Tema AGI and CEO of Myroc Group of Companies, Charles Mensah, narrated to the utter chagrin of his colleagues how he used his own 700,000 old cedis in 1991 to start the road near his factory, and when he appealed to authorities for help, a state engineer detailed to “guide” him demanded 140 old cedis then.

“If I take money from the banks to do business and I have to use it to tar roads, how do I pay back the loan?” he asked. “The main transformer there is even mine; I paid for it myself,” added the tuna exporter.

Tema, according to the industrialists, is a gold mine; hence proper attention should be paid to its infrastructure for the betterment of industry and the country as a whole.

When all was said and done, the AGI members agreed that corruption was depriving the country of the needed resources for major developmental projects.

They therefore appealed to government to pay attention to infrastructural development in the country to help industry grow and create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.

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