Travelling to Kwahu Afram Plains in the Eastern Region is stressful and full of anxiety. Apart from the long-distance motorists need to cover, missing the only ferry working on the 3km stretch Afram River is doom for passengers. Passengers could be stranded for four hours.
“The pontoon works in the morning to 10:30 am and resumes from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm so if you miss it, it means you can’t cross unless you use boat which is dangerous,” a worried commuter lamented.
After all these ordeals, passengers again endure the excruciating journey on the poor road network from Enkye Amanfrom to ‘Tease’ through to Donkorkrom.
More worrying is the notorious highway robbers terrorizing residents particularly during market days.
Afram Plains consists of two Districts—Afram Plains South and Afram Plains North with ‘Tease’ and Donkokrom as the district capitals respectively. These districts cover a total of 5,436 square kilometres of the landmass.
There are two main entrances into the Afram Plains area—by road through Nkawkaw-Mpraeso-Bepong-Kwahu Tafo and Adawso from where the three-kilometre wide Afram River is crossed to Ekye-Amanfrom by a ferry operated by the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC).
The second entrance is through Agogo in the Sekyere Afram Plains in the Ashanti region where one can travel by road through Dome to Maame Krobo then to Tease, the District capital.
The Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC) provides ferry services on the Lake and currently operates one ferry in the Kwahu Afram Plains South between Adawso and Ekye-Amanfrom. The ferry service has a capacity of 360 tonnes per trip.
Currently, the ferry operates on a single engine hence takes about 30 minutes to cross. The peak periods in its services are during the yam and maize harvesting period September – March; when up to six trips could be undertaken.
Agriculture stands to be the mainstay of the local economy making up 77.4% of the total employed labour force—with some in food crop farming—cassava, plantain, yam, cocoyam, maize and cash crops—cashew, oil palm, citrus. Also, other farmers are into animal husbandry and fishing.
The availability of large stretch of land and its suitability for various crops farm sizes range between 2 and 200 acres, making the area suitable for mechanized and large scale commercial farming.
But the challenges in the transport system in the Afram Plains area is affecting Agriculture and ease in moving goods and services.
George Afram a farmer, told Starr News, “The poor road network and the incessant robbery attacks are discouraging many traders to come to buy from us, so our products get rotten especially during bumper harvest.”
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised to construct a monumental bridge over the Afram River during the 2016 electioneering.
Speaking to Starr News, residents in the Area called on the NPP government to fulfil its campaign promises on the construction of the bridge and the deplorable roads in the area to mitigate the hassle in transporting farm produce and travelling to the area.
“We are suffering here, the ferry waste our time, sometimes we get stranded just like today the ferry has left so we are appealing to the President to fulfil the promise of constructing a bridge but for the meantime must construct the road from Ekye to Tease and Donkokrom. The roads are bad and armed robbers have taken advantage,” Prince, a resident told Starr News.
The MCE for Afram Plains North, Samuel Ohene Kena, is hopeful the construction of the bridge will boost agriculture and turn the fortunes of the local economy.
“It was a campaign promise and the government has started work. I am aware that visibility study is being done. The experts were here to take the soil sample so I am hopeful the bridge will be constructed. It will open up the place and boost the local economy.”
Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/103.5FM/Kojo Ansah