A sod cutting ceremony for the Kumasi Kejetia/Central Market Redevelopment Project has been officially performed by the President, John Dramani Mahama, amid pomp and pageantry at the site, yesterday.
The ceremony was also graced by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, the Brazilian Ambassador to Ghana, Arene Vidas, and other government officials.
Estimated at $298 million, the project, which will be in three phases, is being executed by a Brazilian construction firm, Contracta Limitada.
The first phase comprises construction work at the Kejetia bus terminal, to be completed within a period of 24 months, and estimated at $198 million, while the second and third phases, would focus on the re-development of the Kumasi Central Market.
When completed, it will also have a convenient parking area for vehicles, modern bus terminal, fire station, clinic, police station, crèche, community facilities with modern security features, modern sewerage and sanitation facility for the users of the market.
According to the President, the project was being financed under the new Public Debt Management Strategy.
He explained that under that strategy, government had signed a lending agreement with the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) which would open a debt service account into which a portion of the revenue accruing would be paid toward repaying the loan extended to KMA for the project.
Mr. Mahama said under the new strategy, state-owned enterprises for which government took loans would be required to service those loans out of the revenue generated.
He tasked the KMA to work with the committee set up by the Asantehene to work out the grievances of traders affected by the project, and assured the traders that they would be the first to be considered in the allocation of stores.
The President expects that the market would not become a warehouse for the sale of imported products only, but become the home for many quality products manufactured locally and hoped many others would hit the market as a result of the agenda for transformation.
Government, the President said, was working hard on other projects in the Ashanti Region and, had an agreement with the French government to provide Euros37.5m for the financing of the second phase of the Kumasi roads and drainage extension projects which would involve the construction of the Lake road/Oforikrom bypass and the Aboabo drainage works.
The Brazilian Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Vidas expressed satisfaction and happiness saying “this is my best project. It is a political commitment of the government to the improvement of the people of Ashanti and beyond, and I give you my support”.
She noted that Ghana was a good place for doing business and said “very soon you will see a state- of- the- art market that you will be proud of”.
The Chief Executive Officer of the contracting firm, Fabio Camara indicated that fire outbreaks would soon be a thing of the past with the completion of the market.
He said more than 300 tonnes of steel have already been assembled and hoped to finish work on time adding that currently, there were 300 employees, all locals, while about 70 per cent of the materials were from the local market.
Earlier, Mr. Bonsu announced that transport unions operating from the Kejetia terminal would be re-located temporarily to the erstwhile Race Course, the Afua Kobi Market and Sofo Line, while the Royal Market and Acheamfuor Trading Centres have been secured to resettle the traders at the terminal at no cost for two and a half years.
But, the traders rejected the KMA’s ejection plan for fear of not getting back their lots after the completion of the project and petitioned Mr. Eric Opoku, who was acting as the Ashanti Regional Minister, in March this year, who requested that, they team up with the KMA to register occupants at the place. The registration exercise began in April this year amid tight military presence.
Mr. Bonsu, however, allayed the fears of traders who were worried their shops and stalls would not get back to them after the completion of the project.
Yesterday, a visit to the 40,000 square kilometers parcel of land at the Race Course, where some of the traders were supposed to be relocated, saw the area yet to be cleared to the chagrin of the traders.
From Kingsley E. Hope,Kumasi