The Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Ms Sherry Ayittey, on Tuesday inaugurated an 11-member Western Regional Oversight Committee to supervise the preparation of spatial development framework for the Region.
The Committee has been charged to provide operational oversight and technical direction for the Regional Planning Team, review and adopt work programme, mobilize and ensure regular support and effective participation of all stakeholders and facilitate data collection.
It is also expected to ensure effective dissemination of the spatial development framework to the wider populace of the Region as well as liaise with the National Technical Committee by serving as a bridge between the Consulting team and the Committee.
Ms Ayittey said the Government had secured $6.5 million from the Norwegian Government as an initial amount for the project.
She noted that the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities in the country had created tremendous opportunities for stimulating national development.
“Synergy between the oil and gas industry and the rest of the economy is therefore critical for ensuring that Ghana achieves broad-based development and that exploitation of its natural resources, especially oil and gas meets the total needs of its citizens,” Ms Ayittey said.
She observed that environmental protection particularly against the negative impact of the oil industry is of major concern to the Government.
Ms Ayittey said the Government would ensure that activities of the oil sector are consistent with international standards of environmental sustainability.
“In ensuring physical planning and good land use practices, particularly in the areas around the oil fields, special attention needs to be paid to the development of human settlements”, she said.
Ms Ayittey tasked the Committee to ensure that organized human activities within cities, towns and villages were undertaken in a planned and spatially determined manner in order to bring about equity and enhanced socio-economic development in the country.
“The government aims at ensuring that human settlement development policy focus on spatial land use planning and management, urban development management of housing, slum upgrading and prevention, disaster prevention, institutional arrangements, hierarchy of human settlements and rural development are well managed, “she stated.
The Western Regional Minister, Mr. Paul Evans Aidoo, observed that with the discovery of oil, there had been aggressive crave for land for all sorts of development.
He said the inauguration of the Committee had come at an opportune time to ensure that settlements within the oil enclave and other areas in the Region are well planned to achieve maximum benefits from the land.