Chief of Vea, Naba Thomas Azubire II, along with his residents and members of the adjoining communities in the Bongo district of the Upper East region, lament the government’s alleged deliberate refusal to make any attempt to construct a bridge over the Vea Dam Spillway.
The construction of the Vea dam started in 1965 under the leadership of the former Ghanaian first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and was completed in 1968. The primary purpose of the dam was to provide water for irrigation to support food production and to empower livelihoods in the region and beyond. Sometime around 1980, the dam became the major source of potable drinking water, supplying approximately one hundred thousand people within the Bolgatanga municipality and the Bongo district.
During a press conference at the Vea Dam spillway area, Chairman of the Vea Homecoming Group, Milton Aberinga, stated that despite the community’s sacrifice of offering over thirty percent of its total land area for the dam’s construction, many people from Vea and its surrounding communities have lost their lives and continue to suffer while attempting to cross the spillway just to earn a living, pursue education, and access proper healthcare.
“Over the years, many people from the community have lost their lives as a result of malaria infections and suicides, while many have continued to suffer various forms of deformities from diseases such as elephantiasis, sickle cell, and other forms of permanent disabilities. As if these were not enough, the government of Ghana has deliberately excluded the affected people economically and socially by refusing to pay heed to the cry of the people for the construction of a bridge over the spillway. Ladies and gentlemen of the media, as you can see on the ground, the evidence is overwhelming as commuters struggle to cross from both sides of the spillway.”
“The traumatize residents in their press statement, extremely worry following what they describe as unthinkable attitude by some authorities towards them in their own way trying to construct the bridge after government failure to do what the enshrined the government to do.”
Mr. Aberinga, who read the statement, mentioned that the Vea Homecoming Group had, over the years, mobilized a substantial amount of money for the construction of the spillway bridge on their own, as the government continuously promised but failed to deliver. Unfortunately, their efforts were met with resistance from the authorities.
According to Mr. Aberinga, in 2020, members of the Vea Homecoming Group responsibly mobilized resources to build the bridge. The Group, led by the Chief and the Assembly Member of Vea, approached the Irrigation Company of Upper Region (ICOUR) to inform them of their plans for the bridge’s construction. However, to their dismay, the management of ICOUR warned them against proceeding with any work across the spillway.
Furthermore, in 2020, the Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Attah, during a session of the Meet the Press series in Bolgatanga, declared that no community had the right to construct a bridge. This statement came in response to a question from a journalist regarding the Vea community’s efforts to fund the bridge’s construction.
Most shocking and disappointing to the Chief and residents of the Vea community was the response they received from the Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, when a delegation from the community visited his office in January 2023 to seek approval for the bridge’s construction using their own resources. According to the Chairman of the group, Mr. Yakubu stated that the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) already possessed the bridge’s design. Therefore, if the community had the funds for construction, they should first provide the money and the design to the RCC. If it met their standards, they would then hire a contractor to carry out the work. The residents described this response as “unfortunate and mocking to the chiefs and people of the affected communities” by the Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu.
The Chief of Vea, Naba Azubire II, and the Vea Homecoming Group are calling on the government and all relevant authorities to immediately commence the bridge’s construction. Failing this, they have no choice but to construct the bridge according to the standards their resources can meet, starting in January 2024.
The communities perennially affected during the rainy season due to the lack of a bridge over the dam spillway include Vea, Zorkor, Balungo, Lungu, Nyariga, and Gowrie. These residents are forced to pay a minimum of Ghc. 5.00 for a canoe ride to cross. Mr. Aberinga, while addressing the press, emphasized that if the government fails to commence construction before January 2024, his group, the Chief, and all the affected communities will vehemently resist any attempt by any group or institution to disrupt the project’s execution, which is crucial for their well-being and survival, as they have done in the past when their pleas went unanswered.
Source: A1Radioonline.Com|101.1MHZ|David Azure |Vea Community|