The UK government is sponsoring a research work in collaboration with various engineering research institutions across Africa to find new technologies that can bring the cost and maintenance of rural roads to a minimum.
The research is also aimed at gaining better understanding, better technologies and cost effective methods for rural road transport systems.
Mr Isaac Adjei-Mensah, the Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways, speaking at the African Community Access Programme bi-annual Steering Committee Meeting, said poverty was still a predominantly rural phenomenon and poor accessibility and mobility was a significant aspect of this.
The Ministry of Roads and Highways in collaboration with Research for Community Access Partnership (ReCAP) has organised the meeting to mitigate rural transport challenges in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa.
He said this was mainly because poor accessibility to distant markets and socio-economic services for improved livelihood remained a problem.
He said though various measures were being undertaken to meet rural transport needs, there was the need for government to provide and maintain roads in a condition that facilitated all-weather access, and regular transport services still remained an expectation by a huge proportion of rural dwellers.
He said over 50 per cent of Ghana’s road network were in rural areas where accessibility and mobility continued to be a major challenge, adding that “even cost to maintain these roads continues to soar and thus the need to find ingenious ways to reduce the burden.”
Mr Adjei-Mensah said the contribution by the programme towards the achievement of efficient and cost effective transport systems in rural communities was well appreciated as a significant contribution towards the mitigation of the rural challenges in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa.
He said this year’s steering committee meeting had in attendance people from over 20 countries to deliberate on rural transport research in Africa and discuss ways of improving the socio-economic life of rural dwellers through improvements in road infrastructure and transport services.
He said the cost of roads leading to markets, hospitals and educational facilities must be reduced to a minimum, since they had major consequence on goods and services and also the quality of lives for rural dwellers.
“The purpose of the research will help countries in the African continent to cross fertilise ideas in terms of the best means to construct rural roads at cheaper cost,” he said.
Mr Adjei-Mensah said that it was important for Ghana to use the new technologies, which had evolved to support cheaper, less expensive construction of roads in the rural areas to reduce the cost of foods and help produce food to make live for rural dwellers much easier.
He applauded the Executive Committee of the ReCAP for choosing Ghana, to host this year’s Steering Committee Meeting.