Ghana observes World Habitat Day

Sodom_GomorrahMetropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have been urged to coordinate with all stakeholders in planning and executing street naming and property addressing to ensure easy mobility and accessibility.

Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu, Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), who made the call on Monday, said lack of collaboration among stakeholders in the urban sector for planning and joint implementation of projects was one of the major problems of urban planning in the country.

The Minister was speaking at this year’s World Habitat Day celebration in Accra under the theme, “Urban Mobility”.

This year, Ghana celebrated the day under the sub-theme, “Improving Urban Mobility for Sustainable Development”.

He said to solve those problems his Ministry and other Ministries prepared the National Urban Policy to guide urban planning and to promote effective collaboration in the urban sector on implementation and programmes to improve urban mobility in the country.

He reiterated the need for MMDAs to use their mandate as Planning Authorities not only to provide social and economic infrastructure to communities, but also to collaborate with traditional authorities and land owners to ensure the effective organisation of economic and social activities in space.

Mr Opong-Fosu announced that the Ministry through the support of the development partners was currently implementing a number of urban development projects meant to serve as examples for ensuring urban planning and orderly development of the cities and towns to facilitate mobility.

He mentioned the Urban Transport Project; Ghana Urban Management Pilot Programme; Greater Accra Community Upgrading Project, and Local Governance and Decentralization Programme as some of the projects that were ongoing.

Mr Opong-Fosu said it was important MMDAs adopted the lessons from those projects to improve upon urban planning and ensure orderly development of towns and cities for easy access and mobility.

He pledged the Ministry’s commitment to give the needed support in the form of training and provision of the requisite equipment for the successful implementation of the Street naming and Property addressing project.

In a speech read for him, Alhaji Colins Dauda, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, said government was not relenting in its efforts at getting the huge housing deficit reduced.

He said currently Ghana’s housing deficit was estimated to be in the range of 1.7 million units.

“A lot of investors, both foreign and local, continue to express interest in the Affordable Housing Programme and the Ministry has signed memoranda of understanding with them, to enable them to participate in the programme.

“One of such projects, the construction of 5,000 housing units to be executed by Messrs Constructora OAS Limited, was given Parliamentary approval last year and they are mobilising to start work on the first phase of the project at Saglemi comprising about 1, 200 Housing Units,” he said.

Alhaji Dauda said that some of the housing units under that project would be constructed in other regions, especially in the newly created districts.

Mr Isaac Adjei-Mensah, Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways, said to ensure that urban areas were livable it was necessary to continuously ensure coordination between transportation and land use planning.

He said there was the need to collaborate between the various line agencies involved in land use planning like the Town and Country Planning Department and those involved in Transportation Planning like the Department of Urban Roads.

Dr Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN Habitat, in a speech read for her, said urban planning and design should focus on how to bring people and places together, by creating cities that focus on accessibility, rather than simply increasing the length and capacity of transport infrastructure.

She said by optimising urban densities and minimising land zoning ‘we make the city work for its citizens; proximity of goods and services takes advantage of the urban transport infrastructure.

“In an environment characterised by scarcity, this is not only preferable to our standard of living but vital if we are to grow our urban space in a sustainable and desirable way. We need to ensure the cities of the future are well-planned, sustained and accessible to all,” she added.

The Secretary-General of United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, in a speech read for him, said urban transport was a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and a cause of ill-health due to air and noise pollution.

He noted that traffic congestion created by unsustainable transportation systems was responsible for significant economic and productivity costs for commuters and transporting of goods, and expressed the hope that the celebration would make countries more committed to making their cities and towns accessible to all.

Source: GNA

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