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Months after a rainstorm displaced 818 people in the Bongo District of the Upper East region, government is yet to provide any relief items for the survivors, Starr News has learnt.

At least 218 houses were crushed by a midnight storm that left a girl severely injured and ripped off 22 school buildings and some health facilities in May. Whilst addressing residents during a town hall meeting Tuesday, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Bongo, Peter Ayamga Ayinbisa, disclosed that the assembly had not received even a word of hope from the Central Government.

“I am not happy to remind you a devastating rainstorm hit us on 29th May, 2017. It left in its trail destruction to many school infrastructure and health facilities among others including private homes and business structures. After the incident, our National Disaster Management Organisation officer led a rapid inspection team comprising critical staff of the assembly to inspect the damage.

“According to the directorate, the assembly needs about Gh¢89,000 to fix our school buildings and other state facilities that were caught in the mess. However, as it stands now, we have not received any support from Central Government. As an assembly, we will have to do everything within our means to repair these schools before the commencement of the [next] academic year. We continue to call on the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council, NGOs and other philanthropists to come to our aid,” the DCE lamented.

The event, the first to be held in the region in 2017, is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

Caterers owed arrears for 2 terms

Welcoming attendees to the meeting, the DCE highlighted a number of achievements chalked since he assumed office about 2 months ago.

They include payment of five months allowance arrears owed traditional authorities in the district, recruitment of two persons in preparation for the reopening of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) office in the area, disbursement of the 2016 fourth quarter share of District Common Fund to persons with disability as well as increment of the Disability Fund from 2% to 3%.

From left, DCE for Bongo, Peter Ayinbisa, the Paramount Chief of Bongo, Naba Baba Salifu Atamale Lemyaruum, the Upper East Regional Minister, Rockson Bukari, and former DCE for Bongo Clement Apikiya

Touching on the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) scheme, he said the assembly had distributed a total amount of Gh¢533,082 to 3,526 households across the district with plans to add 400 more households this year.

“In my district, 23 schools are currently benefitting from the Ghana School Feeding Programme and there are plans to raise this number by 30% within the year. Meanwhile, government has since paid all caterers for two terms of service to our schools in the district while plans are far advanced to clear a remainder of two terms arrears owed these caterers. The contractual engagements with the caterers, however, ended in July, 2017, and new ones are being interviewed for recruitment,” Mr. Ayinbisa also revealed.

Pay your tax for boreholes, classroom blocks- Regional Minister

The forum presented participants with the usual opportunity to pose questions on issues they seemed to have stomached for a very long time.

Among the concerns raised were the deplorable conditions of roads in the area, high incidence of teenage pregnancies, protracted water shortage, a collapsed bridge between Lungo and Balungu, neglect of a health facility devastated by the May rainstorm at Lungo, teachers’ lateness and drunkenness and insecurity among others.

A cross-section of the town hall meeting attendees at Bongo

The DCE, responding to some of the questions, attributed the collapse of some physical structures in the district to the poor attitude of some technocrats towards the jobs assigned them to do. A delegation from the Ghana Education Service (GES), led by the Human Resource Manager at the Bongo District Education Directorate, Nicholas N. Kolog, blamed the disturbing rate of teenage pregnancies in the area on parents’ failure to do effective monitoring of their children.

“Some girls were pregnant whilst writing the BECE (Basic Education Certificate Examination) this year. One of them was in the middle of the first paper when she had to be rushed to the hospital to be delivered. After she gave birth, she could not write the rest of the papers,” Mr. Kolog added as the audience sighed with awe.

The Upper East Regional Minister, Rockson Ayine Bukari, whilst delivering his keynote address to the gathering, underscored the need for residents to honour their tax obligations as they expected government to fulfill its infrastructural promises.

“Democracy is a two-way system. Just as we the governed expect the governor or leadership to deliver on some mandate, the leadership also expects us to honour our duties and responsibilities to the state.

“For instance, whilst we expect our assembly to provide us with boreholes and classroom blocks, it behooves us to also ensure that we honour our tax obligations and maintain the facilities provided so that their lifespan can be prolonged. Let us put behind us the old-age problems where when communities are provided with facilities we expect the donor to repair them when they are deteriorating,” the Regional Minister urged.