Ministry holds workshop on urban planning
A day’s validation workshop to provide a platform for stakeholders to make valuable inputs into the draft national urban policy ended in Koforidua on Wednesday.
The workshop, which was organized by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), was to enable the about 80 participants drawn from the Eastern Region to discuss and share information on how best they could collaborate to make the implementation of the policy effective and efficient.
Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said sustainable urban development was crucial for the achievement of the socio-economic development that Ghana aspires to achieve over the next few years.
He said while the national population was growing at a rate of 2.7 percent per annum, urban population was going at 4.4 percent, adding that it was estimated that Ghana’s population would reach 25 million by the end of 2010 of which more than 50 percent would live in urban areas.
He said this represented development potential and opportunities as well as problems and challenges.
Mr Yieleh Chireh said cities and towns could become systems that contributed positively to development and act as engines of growth such as the Asian “tigers” experienced but only so because they were a product of deliberate planning.
“It is estimated in such scenarios that, cities and towns could contribute around 80 percent of Gross National Product (GNP)”.
He said cities and towns could be liabilities and centres of crime, environmental hazards and mass under-employment/unemployment if they were as a result of spontaneous, unplanned and uncontrollable economic activities.
Mr Yieleh Chireh said rapid urbanization would need to be accompanied by the necessary infrastructural facilities supported by adequate fiscal and other provisions.
He said experience in the country had shown that lack of the various policies and inadequate provisions of funding had accentuated already serious problems with rapid urban development.
Among the common problems encountered are chronic housing shortages, traffic congestion and environmental pollution, inadequate infrastructural facilities, deteriorating basic services, increased social inequity, widespread poverty and limited employment opportunities.
The minister said another area of concern was how urban settlements were planned and that the continuing sprawling of settlements without adequate infrastructure was disturbing, expensive to manage and unsustainable in the long term.
“Most of these settlements are just like dormitories from where everybody commutes daily to the city centre for business”.
Mr Yieleh Chireh said that situation could not be allowed to continue in the country adding “We must find mechanisms for ensuring that development of our urban centres is well coordinated to warrant the efficient functioning of the settlements within businesses”.
He said urbanization was a global phenomenon and it was inevitable and irreversibly adding that “We must as a nation begin to discuss urbanization as a national issue, so that together, we can fashion out pragmatic and workable policies towards our urban development”.
“It is the policy of the Government to use urbanization as a catalyst for economic growth, socio-cultural improvement and enhancement and environmental sustainability”.
Mr Yieleh Chireh expressed his sincere gratitude to GTZ and other Development Partners for their continued assistance to the government and people of Ghana in general and the ministry in particular.