Nkrumah?s projects in ruins (I) After 33 years of neglect.



Ghana?s desire to attain a middle-income status by 2015 has prompted calls on the government to reactivate hundreds of projects initiated by Ghana?s First President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, but which have been left to rot in many parts of the country.

From locations across the country where the about 300 factories intended for the production of a wide variety of products have been abandoned, calls were made for their reactivation to create wealth and employment in those areas.

They include concerns intended for the production of cement, steel, roofing sheets, glass, rubber, jute, matches, sugar, paper and leather, rattan products, among others.

But from the north to the south and across the east to the west of the country there are clear signs of those concerns decaying after decades of neglect.

Among the industries that have collapsed or become desolate are Tema Food Complex, the State Housing Corporation (SHC), the State Construction Corporation (SCC), State Fisheries, the Takoradi Paper Mill, the Takoradi Flour Mill, the Tema Flour Mill and the Glass Factory at Aboso.

Others are Saltpond Ceramics, Akoko Foto, Pomadze Poultry Farm, Amrahia Dairy, the Aveyime Cattle Ranch, the Kade Match Factory, Tema Steel Works, State Hotels, the Kumasi Jute Factory, the Kumasi Shoe Factory, the Pwallugu Tomato Factory, the Nsawam Cannery, Brick and Tile Factories and the Pre-fabricated Concrete Products.

Today, only a few of those early post-independence era projects remain. They include the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), the National Investment Bank (NIB), the State Insurance Company (SIC), the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the Ghana Cement Company (GHACEM), the Ghana oil Company (GOIL) and the Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA).

Expressing his view on the situation Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, a leading member of the Convention People?s Party (CPP), said Dr. Nkrumah had envisioned an industrial Ghana with little or zero unemployment. He said towards that vision, Nkrumah had established factories, institutions and projects in every part of the country with the view to making Ghana an industrial hub, but all that began to crumble soon after his overthrow in February 1966,?reports KOFI YEBOAH.

In the circumstance, he urged the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to work towards reviving the hundreds of abandoned projects. He argued that if Dr. Nkrumah?s projects had been maintained, Ghana would have advanced in its development.

?I believe sincerely that Nkrumah was a gift from God?, he said.

Prof. Akosa said Dr. Nkrumah established SCC because there was no local company that could bid for contracts in the country, adding that the idea of establishing SCC was to meet international competition in the construction industry.

He said China had a state construction company that was even executing projects in Ghana at the moment and so there was no reason the country should not have such an institution.

?We have a housing deficit of about three million in the country and we cannot leave this in the hands of private individuals?, he said.

He Akosa said at the time of Nkrumah?s overthrow, everything needed for the construction of the Bui Dam was in Ghana.

?But where did all go?? he asked.

He disagreed with suggestions that Nkrumah was able to undertake those projects because he inherited funds from the British Colonial Masters, contending that he managed to execute the projects through savings he made from prudent economic management.

According to Prof. Akosa, Nkrumah saved ?80 million while serving as a leader of government business between 1951 & 1954 & ?120 from 1955 to 1957.

He urged the government to revive all the projects initiated by Nkrumah and put them on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) to enable as many Ghanaians as possible to own shares in those companies.

He said the government had a responsibility to create opportunities for people to achieve their goals, pointing out that ?it is irresponsibility of governance? for the government to say it could not create jobs for the people.

?America is said to be a land of opportunities, but what is Ghana?s dream? Is it a land of hopelessness??, he asked.

There are no immediate signs for the resuscitation of two of the major industries established in Kumasi by the government of Dr. Nkrumah,?report Kwame Asare Boadu and Enoch Darfah Frimpong,?Kumasi.

The Ghana Shoe Factory and the GIHOC Fibre Products Company, popularly referred to as the ?Jute Factory?, were two of the numerous industrial establishments set up by the CPP government across the country but which collapsed after the overthrow of that government.

Unfulfilled promises by successive governments to revive the industries had resulted in their being put in deplorable situations as some of the buildings have deteriorated beyond repairs, while others have been taken over by other companies.

Based on past experience, the current Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Kofi Opoku-Manu, told theDaily Graphic?that, ?the current government will not make any promise to bring the factories back?.

He, however, said some investors had been contacted to look at the defunct shoe factory and see if they had any interest in it.

?If they express interest, we will go ahead to negotiate with them for a take-over?, he said.

Life in Kumasi has not been the same since the collapse of the two industries.

Together, the two provided direct employment for about 5,000 workers.

As one elderly man told the?Daily Graphic, ?Osagyefo will be turning in his grave today because of what has happened to the two industries that were dear to his heart?.

The Shoe Factory, located at Chirapatre in Kumasi, was regarded as the biggest of its kind in West Africa. It started operations in 1967 as a state-owned enterprise under the Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation line.

Its products were mainly industrial boots for workers of the mining and manufacturing companies. Occasionally, the factory also produced fashionable shoes on request.

The activities of the Shoe Factory slumped between 1973 and 1995 and it was eventually listed for divestiture.

Newack Commercial Capital of the Czech Republic, which bought the factory from the Divestiture Implementation Committee, did not show any interest in resuscitating it and the government repossessed it.

Newack rented out some of the buildings at the factory site to companies such as Latex Foam, L?Air Liquide, Sonnex Packaging and Plastics Industries, producers of Poly-tanks, and Glory Life Church.

Parts of the open spaces at the factory site have also been converted into farmlands and the whole place is a sorry sight to behold.

The production section of the factory is in a serious state of disrepair, even through some of the machinery may be in good condition.

The story is the same at the Jute Factory where everything is in a deplorable state, with no immediate hope of being resuscitated.

The Sack Manufacturing Company was closed down on July 31, 1991 and equipment, buildings and a few raw materials which were still available at the factory premises have been allowed to go waste.

There is presently no activity at the premises except a skeletal staff of about eight, comprising security men and a supervisor, who are taking care of the place.

The machines in the main factory yard are presently engulfed by dust and cobwebs, with the administration block in a very deplorable state. Weeds have also engulfed main yard and the surroundings of the company.

The GIHOC Fibre Products Company was set up in 1962 by Dr. Nkrumah to manufacture sacks for the export of cocoa beans and other agricultural produce such as maize.

It was also producing shopping bags and money sacks for the carriage of coins by the banks.

As the only company manufacturing such products, the factory was one of the best in the country until it started facing difficulties in the mid 1980s.

Information gathered indicates that it employed a total workforce of about 1,800 who operated 24 hours on three shifts.

When the factory was no longer able to stand on its feet, the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB), which relied greatly on the factory for sacks, went to its aid to pre-finance production.

The factory relied on local raw materials ? Jute ? but since that was not adequate for production, it imported some form Bangladesh.

When the CMB went to the aid of the company, it took over the responsibility of importing the raw material from Bangladesh, after which the factory charged it for the production.

That arrangement went on for a while until 1990 when the CMB decided that it could no longer pre-finance the production and rather resorted to sourcing the finished sacks from elsewhere.

According to Mr. J.N. Cole, a Supervisor at the factory, the Managers of the Factory had no alternative but close it down on July 31, 1991.

He told the?Daily Graphic?that there had not been any activity at the factory ever since, until about two years ago when an investor came around with the view to resuscitating the factory.

He said the investor started renovating portions of the warehouse but later stopped work for lack of funds and nothing has since been heard from him.

The 1960s was described as Africa?s decade of political emancipation and regarded with optimism,?reports Emmanuel Modey from Ho.

Dr. Nkrumah realized that the greater proportion of the population and the resources for development abounded in the rural areas, hence it ?salvation? lay in the rural sector.

But, ironically, rural dwellers experience extreme forms of poverty, illiteracy, food insecurity, preventable diseases and infant/maternal mortality rate.

The Volta Regional Officer in charge of Crops. Mr. John Tsrakasu, told the?Daily Graphic?that to accelerate economic growth, one of the areas which received the immediate attention of Dr. Nkrumah?s administration was agriculture. He said Dr. Nkrumah placed emphasis on the primary industries and the policy was to extract the natural resources and agricultural produce to feed the other industries and ensure food security.

?That is why he established the State Farms, built dams and silos in many parts of the region meant to allow peasant farmers to have a say in their own destiny in future?, he said.

Unfortunately, he said, the tragedy was that after Nkrumah?s overthrow, many of his projects were abandoned and the capital investment, including expensive equipment, had all deteriorated beyond repairs.

These include the uncompleted silos in Ho, cold stores and dams in many communities in the then Kete Krachi District, Kayime in the Adaklu-Anyigbe District and the Kpeve Agricultural Station which served as the cocoa and crop research station.

From Tamale, Vincent Amenuveve reports that a good number of development projects established decades ago in the Northern Region by Dr. Nkrumah have now become white elephants.

The reasons for this phenomenon are not far-fetched since, after the overthrow of Dr. Nkrumah in 1966, most of the projects and the idea behind their establishment were abandoned by successive governments.

According to a renowned historian in Tamale, Mr. Wilberforce Adams Shaibu, Northern Ghana could have been better than it is now had those projects been revived and improved.

A cursory look at the region shows that the projects were potentially viable and they could have enhanced the lives of the people.

The Food Distribution Corporation at Lamashegu, a suburb of Tamale, where an underground tunnel was built for storage purposes has been neglected.

Many residents are wondering what happened to that project, because of their pest harvest losses. Attempts were made during Dr. Nkrumah?s regime to explore the iron ore deposits at Sheini in the Zabzugu-Talale District.

Again, that vision was abandoned, although feasibility studies were completed and some machines that were procured for the project are now obsolete.

The state farms at Demon, located between Yendi and Saboba, was booming. It was equipped with tractors, combine harvesters and bulldozers, most of which are now, lying idle.

The resettlement farms at Damongo, now called ?canteen?, attracted many people to the area to earn their livelihood, but that vision has also fizzled out.

?What has happened to the silos that were put up by the first President??, asks Mr. Shaibu.

A number of the silos were located at Demon and Daatoyili.

?What about the vegetable oil mills located around Lamashegu in Tamale??, he further questioned.

According to the historian, all those projects had been abandoned.

He intimated that there were also the Ghana Education Trust schools built by Dr. Nkrumah.

One of the schools, he said, was the Ghana College, now called the Ghana Senior High School (GHANASCO), built in 1960.

The First President also built guest houses along the Nakpanduri Scrap in the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District that have deteriorated.

The old airport area near Nyohini was also the brain child of the First President.

*Source:?Daily Graphic

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