Vea – A donor fund that was sourced by the Ghana Government to rehabilitate some parts of the Vea Irrigation Dam in the Upper East Region is likely to be returned to the donor agency if concrete measures are not taken to resolve a confrontation between the Chief of Vea and the “Tindana” to pave way for the contractor to complete the project as scheduled.
The “Tindana” is the overseer and spiritual head of the land and often consults the soothsayers when there is need for land to be released for any major development.
He is therefore a major stakeholder when it comes to the release of land for development and the Chief alone cannot play that role.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview at Bongo , the Managing Director (MD) of Eunitack Services Exchange, Mr Lawrence Adam Takyi, the project contractor, said he was awarded the contract in 2010 to rehabilitate the up and down stream walls of the Vea facility which had developed major gullies as a result of prolonged erosion.
The MD who indicated that he would have completed the project before the December 2012 deadline, said he had done some part of the job and imported some material from South Africa to complete it.
He said what was needed to complete the work was some raw material in the form of rocks which could be found in the area but he had to enter into an agreement with the Vea Chief, Naba Thomas Azubire, and so a memorandum of understanding was signed and a sum of money paid to the chief for the raw material.
The MD indicated when he was about to break the rocks for use he was prevented by the “Tindana” who announced to him that that portion of the land was a sacred place and should therefore not be used for such activities.
This move, the MD noted, was seriously undermining and delaying the completion of the project at the scheduled time.
Meanwhile, the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council together with the Bongo Traditional Council are doing all they can to ensure that they resolve the issue for the contractor to complete the project on schedule to avoid the return of the grant to the donor.
Addressing some of the stakeholders at the Palace of the Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area, the Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Mrs Lucy Awuni said Government could not afford to allow the grant from the Nordic Development Fund to be returned without the execution of the project.
She appealed to the Paramount Chief of Bongo, Naba Baba Salifu Aleemyaruum who is the overlord of the area to intervene and resolve the issue.
Mrs Awuni explained that the Vea Irrigation facility used to be a major source of livelihood not only to the people of Vea community but the entire Bongo District and the Bolgatanga Municipality where most people engaged in dry season farming including rice, tomato, onion, pepper cultivation, among others.
She stated that due to the deplorable nature of the facility, majority of the farmers could not crop as they used to do and as a result most of them including the youth had left to the southern sector to seek for greener pastures.
“When the facility is rehabilitated it would empower the people particularly the youth to go into farming, especially during the dry season instead of migrating elsewhere to do menial jobs”
The Paramount Chief blamed Vea Naba Azubire, one of the sub chiefs, for causing the problem and said he the Paramount Chief should have been consulted earlier.
He assured the Deputy Regional Minister that he would resolve the problem for the project to be completed on schedule.
The Dam, which was built in the 1960s, is collapsing. It has not had any major rehabilitation since its establishment. The canals and laterals that convey water from the dam to the farms have virtually broken down.
Water does not get to the farmers to enable them to irrigate their farms and many have abandoned the farmlands.
The irrigation area is zoned into low lands for rice farming and uplands for the cultivation of tomato soya beans, cabbage, lettuce, pepper and other vegetables.
Millet and groundnuts also used to be grown in the area. GNA