At a public hearing in Takoradi, the Sekundi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly asked for inputs and comments from the public on the new Medium Term Development Plan.
All chairs were occupied in the conference room at the Melody Hotel. Outside you could hear the vibrant sound of the streets of Takoradi in the mid day heat as the public hearing began with an opening prayer.
The Chairman explained the reason why the Assembly had invited all citizens and the local NGO’s to this public hearing. They were about to present the New Medium Term Development Plan(MTDP), that would be valid from 2014-2017.
» We have made this MTDP in participation with the National Development Planning Commission, but by law every Metropolitan Assembly is obliged to present the plan to the public so that they can have a look and express their thoughts and inputs to consolidate the plan before we submit it to the Central Government,« said the Chairman.
The Metropolitan Chief Executive, Captain Anthony R. Cudjoe, was grateful that so many had showed up for the pubic hearing. He welcomed all the NGO’s and local stakeholders as well as the media.
»The key issue for me is participation and attendance. Without the involvement of the public we cannot form a comprehensive and concrete document that all of us can accept as a plan for the utility of the people in this Metropolis. I am very crateful that you have all come here,« he said.
The new MTDP
The Metro Planning Officer explained how the MTDP had been produced be reviewing a lot of different factors. A performance review had been made on the progress and status of the on-going projects that the Assembly had already begun, while an analysis had been made on the potential, constraints and challenges that the Metropolis was currently facing.
UCSOND was one of the organisations that had helped the Metropolitan Assembly with the identification of key development issues in many of the communities in the Metropolis.
The Metro Development Planning officer introduced some of the priority sectors that the Assembly would focus on for the next four years. These intervention areas were based on the key development issues and community needs that the assembly had acknowledged.
One of the issues was the need for enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector, in order to create new jobs to solve the problem with unemployment among the youth. Another issue was the improvement of the general level of sanitation as well as an increasing awareness on the problem with waste management. Within the different priority sectors, action plans would be implemented to ensure that improvements and development would be happening for the next four years.
Two major priority sectors of the new MTDP were the housing and slum upgrading Metropolis and the improvements of the infrastructure in the whole. According to the evaluation made by the Assembly, only 50 % of all roads in the Metropolis were considered to be in good condition. As the chairman also underlined:
»A functional road network is the basis of all development.«
Planning the future
In order to improve the infrastructure, as well as all the other developmental issues, the chairman addressed the importance of the collaboration from the public. He told that the Assembly had a lot of problems with community members building their houses without seeking permission first.
» When the Assembly have planned something, and you choose to ignore it and go and do your own thing, it demolishes our plans for development and send them back to status quo, « said the chairman.
All the representatives from the Metropolitan Assembly addressed the importance of planning in all aspects of development. The Metro Planning Officer used the construction of a house as an example:
» For every process of development, planning is a crucial thing. You cannot build a new house for your family without planning it first. You need to plan how you are going to construct the house. The design has to be approved before the construction can begin, and you need to plan on how you will finance the building, and which materials to use,« he said.
The chairman continued:
» When you go back to your communities, you should inform the people, that you came here to represent about all the things we have discussed here today. The Assembly will no longer tolerate that people construct houses everywhere. It is your responsibility to tell everyone about the new Medium Term Development Plan that we have presented for you today. The Assembly will not hesitate to pull down structures where it is a necessity, if the houses don’t confirm to the planning that we are rolling out here,« he said.
UCSOND on waste
The programme coordinator from UCSOND, Michael Nyarku, stood up when the Assembly announced that the meeting was open to questions, concerns and inputs from those present. He asked about what the Assembly intended to do on the problem with waste management, and if they had considered the possibility to sort out the waste and focus on recycling.
The Metropolitan Chief Executive answered that recycling was a priority in the new MTDP. The Assembly would try launch a pilot based recycling programme in a few selected communities where they would try out the possibility of recycling of waste, and the possible financial profit it could have for the communities involved. He further underlined that it was not the responsibility of the Assembly alone, to keep the communities clean.
The Assembly were very pleased with all the inputs that came up at the meeting, but the chairman also underlined that it only would be possible to make some small changes to the original plan.
»We cannot make a totally new plan now where we include all the issues you are presenting for us now. There has been put some serious work into the development of this plan, and we can not just neglect. Look at the new MTDP as a skeleton for the overall frame. If we change the skeleton too much, then the frame won’t fit any more,« was the final comment from the chairman.