The Upper East Regional Minister, Paulina Patience Abayage, has paid a working visit to the Tono Irrigation site in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality to ascertain the progress of the rehabilitation of the dam.
The dam since its establishment in 1985 has not seen any major rehabilitation. The Tono Irrigation Project was constructed to promote the production of food crops in the Municipality.
The project has a total land area of 3,860 hectares, but currently managing 1,300 hectares under cultivation.
Currently the project has through the government of Ghana received attention with some funding from the World Bank, to rehabilitate and modernized the Irrigation system.
The visit was on the back of supervisors of the rehabilitation of the dam made up of a nine member delegation including staff of the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project, (GCAP), and the Irrigation Company of the Upper East Region, (ICOUR) and managers of the project who paid a courtesy call on the regional minister early this month.
The government of Ghana has secured an amount of thirty-One million dollars from the World Bank and partly grants from the USAID to rehabilitate the Tono and the Vea dams in the Upper East Region.
The contract is awarded to Top International Engineering Cooperation, (TIEC), a Chinese construction firm.
The contractor is expected to complete the rehabilitation of the Dam within thirty-three months with one year defect liability period.
In a brief meeting with the Regional Minister, on the project, the Acting Managing Director of, ICOUR, Sabastian Bagina, indicated that, though the company has under gone restructuring and all benefits due those affected settled, there is still the need for some key technical staff to be engaged to man the new project when completed.
It is expected that, at the end of the construction, the land area under cultivation will increase from the current 1,300 to 2,490 hectares with two rounds of cropping season a year. As part of the contract the irrigation facility will be fully mechanized when completed.
Speaking to Radio Ghana, the Regional Minister was happy with the progress of work so far, describing Tono and Vea Dams as major projects in the region which has over the years enhanced the living conditions of the people in the region.
She was however, unhappy with the poor culture of maintenance that has bedeviled the scheme over the years and advised that routine repair works be carried out after completion of the project to avert any further damage.
Ms. Abayage explained the relevance of the Irrigation system to the people of the Upper East Region.
Interacting with the contractor on site, the Regional Minister charged the contractor to execute the project properly devoid of shoddy works.
She emphasized that parts of the old Irrigation system that is removed should be forwarded to the ICOUR stores for safe keeping.
Ms. Abayage urged the contractor to make maximum use of local content regarding labor to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth in the area.
In response, the Managing Director of TIEC, Joe Qiao said, they have a proven track record and were not going to compromise it for anything, adding that the contract will be completed within schedule devoid of shoddy works.
Story by Emmanuel Akayeti