…Govt’s tourism job creation in limbo
By Cecil MENSAH
There seems to be an unending tussle over the tract of land meant for the multi-million dollar Marine Drive Project.
Government intends to use the tract of land in the proposed project, which is owned by Togbui Afede, the president of the National House of Chiefs and a Member of the Council State, to harness Ghana’s potential in beach tourism in the West African Sub-region.
But the over 3,000 artisans occupying the said land have joined the fray of protesters by threatening not to vacate the land for the commencement of the project.
It is the latest set up for the intended marine drive project, which has suffered many ups and downs since its conception.
The project, Business Day Ghana has learnt, was previously tabled at Cabinet nine times during the reign of the Late President John Evans Atta-Mills and the immediate past president, John Dramani Mahama.
The project, in spite of all these, saw stiff opposition from the Ga-Dangbe Council members as well as some Ga chiefs in the Greater Accra Region.
Work on the Accra Marine Drive investment project may delay further if steps are not taken by the sector minister to address the concerns of the artisans after it was announced that work will start this year, according to Business Day Ghana sources.
The Accra Marine Drive Investment project forms part of the Akufo-Addo government’s plan to develop Ghana’s tourism sector to meet international standards.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, alluded to this when he presented the 2017 budget statement and economic policy in Parliament on Thursday, March 2.
Speaking on the tourism and creative arts industry, Mr. Ofori Atta said that “in 2017, the government will kick-start the Accra Marine Drive tourism investment project covering over 240 acres of land from the Osu Christianborg Castle to the Arts Centre area in the Greater Accra Region.”
Mr. Ofori-Atta also noted that the “tourism and the creative arts industry is one of the underdeveloped sectors in our country, despite the immense growth potential and opportunities for job creation.
“When developed, the sector can positively impact the lives of many Ghanaians, communities and small enterprises in our country, providing needed jobs for our teeming youth.”
However, the leadership of the Interim Joint Committee of the Craft Dealers at Arts Centre has kick against a planned relocation exercise that would pave way for the start of the project.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the group of artisans at Arts Centre in Accra, John Donkor, told Business Day Ghana in an interview that they are unaware of the plans to relocate them and that they have not been told anything yet.
He said they also heard of the news when the sector Minister, Catherine Afeku announced it during her vetting in Parliament.
Donkor said even though they have started some talks with the directors of the National Centre on Culture and Arts, the decision to relocate them was ill advised.
‘’Because we intend purchasing the portions of the land for our operations and that we are not envisaging any relocation from the area to the proposed Kawukudi Park in the Kanda area as said by the Minister.”
He told Business Day Ghana that they have the capacity to source funds through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to establish an ultra-modern Art Village to compliment the project.
He maintained that members of the group contribute about GHC61,200 annually in terms of rent to the managers of the centre.
“We intend using these as a form of equity to source some loans from the banks to construct a modern craft village in the area.”
He maintained that there is already a tussle on the proposed ‘Kawukudi’ land between the mangers of Accra’s largest Mosque and the youth of the area over the decision by the managers to take over their playing field as part of the Mosque.