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Diasporian News of Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Source: Charles Nkansah

Hon Mike Hammah Speaks at Montreal Town Hall Meeting

Montreal, October 6, 2010 -- Ghana’s Minister of Transport, Hon Mike Hammah was in Montreal, Canada for an international conference but took time off to meet with the Ghanaian community on Sunday. Addressing Ghanaians living in Montreal, Canada at a Town Hall meeting, the Minister told the audience of the several interventions the NDC government has made to clean the mess inherited from the previous government. He, therefore, called on Ghanaians in the Diaspora to support President John Evans Atta Mills and his administration’s efforts to make Ghana a better place for all Ghanaians.

Hon Mike Hammah spoke of the progress the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government under the leadership of H.E. John Evans Atta Mills has made over the past 18 months since its inception in January 2009. He told the gathering that major sectors of the economy are being revamped. He said government is determined to move Ghana towards a knowledge based-economy to unearth the human potential of our nation. He enumerated several improvements in the educational sector including, expansion of the school feeding program, increased capitation grant, free school uniforms and free exercise books among others.

He said government realizes the strong association between infrastructure and economic development and that government is determined to keep its promise and adhere to the wishes of Ghanaians by providing the necessary infrastructure such as roads, railways, airport facilities, schools, water, hospitals, and housing among others.

On the Transport sector, Hon Mike Hammah said transportation remains the medium to build the economy. The Railways sector he said is receiving much attention and a master plan has been developed to target all the growth poles. He mentioned the ongoing rehabilitation works on the Accra – Tema railway lines as almost completed, while the Takoradi lines will commence shortly. He thanked the Peoples Republic of China for giving Ghana a financial boast to start the Eastern corridor lines and said work would be done on the Central lines as well. He appealed to civil society to assist government in the fight against illegal encroachment which he said his ministry is taking a tough stands on.

On the Aviation sector, Hon Hammah said 7 new airlines have so far relocated to Ghana and lamented that despite the opportunities available in this sector, there is still no Ghana national flag carrier. He debunked the erroneous information being peddled on the collapse of the Ghana International Airlines (GIA) and said GIA was a liability on the country’s resources. He questioned the economic sense in pumping $1.5 million every month to support a company that has no key success factors and shows no sign of viability.

He however, praised the NDC government for being human centered and caring, in paying off the salary arrears of the GIA workers and finding alternatives avenues to address the issue of the stranded passengers. He promised Ghanaians that plans are far advance for the establishment of a new and sustainable Ghana Airways carrier and assured them that the process is transparent and will be done well so as not to repeat the mistakes of the GIA.

On the road sector, the minister said his outfit is putting measures in place to stop the carnage on our roads. He said indiscipline and recklessness are some of the reasons for the massive loss of lives on our roads. He said the government is determined to tackle these issues head-on. He said even though the situation is complex, a lot would be done through education and enforcement of the laws on our roads.

The minister also answered several questions from the audience. Some of the concerns he addressed included street hawking, control of both local and foreign medications, chemicals and pesticides products being used on farms, decentralization of essential government services, congestions in our major cities, national security, armed robbery, youth employment, corruption especially, the looted public lands by cronies of the past NPP government. Hon Mike Hammah received a standing ovation when he restated NDC government’s pledge of transparency and assured Ghanaians that all looted public lands would be reclaimed for the benefit of all Ghanaians.

Hon Mike Hammah thanked the audience, especially, Ghanaians in Montreal who put their schedules on hold to attend the meeting despite the short notice. He said their efforts are a clear demonstration of the love they have for their motherland. He urged them to continue to be law abiding citizens. Finally, he appealed to them to come and invest in Ghana in order to give the country the needed boost for growth and acceleration.

Hon Mike Hammah was accompanied to the Town Hall meeting by Mr. Ellis Hugh-Tamakloe, the Ag Director: Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Transport and Mr. Simon Allotey, Representative of the Republic of Ghana on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The Town Hall meeting was chaired by Barimah Akrasi-Sarpong, while the Pastor of the Ghanaian Presbyterian Church, Rev. Abloh Sowah said the prayers. Special thanks to Nana Kwateng Amaning for providing the venue.

Report by Charles Nkansah