Prez Mahama cuts sod for work on fish processing plant

Work on a $7-million fish processing plant at Elmina in the Central Region has started, after President John Dramani Mahama cut the sod for the commencement of work on the project, which should be completed within 12 months.

It is funded by the Export and Import Bank of India, while Expotec International Limited  is the contractor for the project.

The plant will have several components, including a cold store which can take in 100 tonnes of fish and a machine for the processing and packaging of fish.

A special machine will also be put in place to process the entrails of the fish into feed for poultry.

The sod-cutting ceremony at Elmina was preceded by the celebration of the one-year anniversary of the demise of President John Evans Atta Mills by fishermen from the Central, Western, Greater Accra and Volta regions.

President Mahama said the construction of the processing plant would enhance the work of fishermen in terms of storing and processing of their fish.

Besides, he said, the fishermen could sell their fish to the managers of the plant, a situation which can prevent post-harvest losses.

In his address at both  the anniversary celebration and the sod-cutting ceremony,  the President assured fishermen that he would continue with all the projects that President Mills had started in the fishing industry.

The fishermen had installed Prof Mills as Ofarnyi Kweigya II and following his demise they have installed President Mahama as Ofarnyi Kweigya III.

President Mahama indicated that he would go  to Elmina by the end of this year to cut the sod for the Elmina Fishing Harbour project to be funded from the $3 billion China Development Bank CDB loan.

He said a similar fishing harbour would be put up at James Town in Accra.

He also mentioned that the government would put up landing sites in all the coastal areas, including Axim in the Western Region, Teshie in Greater Accra, Keta in  Volta and Senya Beraku in Central.

He said the landing sites would have cold stores and anchorages and the government would continue to channel subsidised outboard motors and premix fuel through the sub-committees of fishermen which were constituted during the Mills administration.

The President indicated that a fisheries enforcement unit would be constituted by October this year to work with the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Police to ward off the activities of foreigners engaged in pair trawling in the country’s waters.

In his remarks, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr Nayon Bilijo, said the fisheries sub-sector had encountered depressing outputs for some time now, ”resulting in very high deficits in national fish supply, relative to demand and consumption requirements”.

His major concerns in the fishing industry included weak infrastructure to develop the post-harvest sub-sector, unsafe and insanitary landing beaches and the proliferation of illegal fishing methods and activities.

Mr Bilijo said the construction of the processing plant would help ”reduce post-harvest losses, add value to the fish catch and thereby optimise the value the nation derives from its fishing industry.’

The Chief Fisherman of Moree, Nana Kweigya, mentioned the activities of foreigners  who were into pair trawling as constituting one of the challenges facing Ghanaian fishermen.

He, therefore, appealed to the government to step up efforts to protect the country’s waters against  these foreigners.

Nana Kweigya lauded President Mills for his immeasurable support to the fishing industry by way of giving fishermen outboard motors at subsidised prices and the arrangement for distributing premix fuel.

… But Elmina chiefs boycott ceremony
THE chiefs of Elmina last Saturday boycotted a sod-cutting ceremony by President John Mahama for the construction of a harbour.

A Joy News reports said the chiefs claimed they had not been consulted by the government on the siting of the harbour.

‘We have issues to settle with the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA) Municipal Assembly and the people who gave the land on which the sod-cutting will take place to them.

‘We were not privy to any discussions and, therefore, we are not going to participate in the sod-cutting ceremony. All this while, the traditional council has not been consulted over the deliberations and the determination of the land on which the sod-cutting will take place.

‘We will take legal action against the people who want to work on the said land,’ the Akwamuhene of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kojo Aduakwa V, threatened at a press conference.

The chiefs subsequently carried through their threat by not attending the sod-cutting ceremony on Saturday.

‘The chiefs have actually carried out their threat and so they are not here. They have boycotted the whole programme,’ Joy News’ correspondent Richard Kojo Nyarko reported.

He said the people from four regions along the coast Greater Accra, Volta, Central and Western had, meanwhile, gathered and were waiting for the President to address the gathering.

Meanwhile, the KEEA Assembly, in response to the agitation by the chiefs, said the land in question was the same parcel which had been given to the Kufuor administration for the fishing harbour project.

The Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Isaac Kweku Sam, explained that the assembly was only continuing projects inherited from the previous government and wanted the traditional council to calm down.

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