The Upper Manya Krobo Constituency in the Eastern Region is blessed with the Volta Lake, which is man-made, which makes a compelling case for farming and fishing activities.
The constituency situated in a Kroboland is endowed with arable land and the fisheries resource has, over the years, attracted many people from far and near who are engaged in fishing, farming and trading.
Crops cultivated in the constituency, aside from Cassava, which is processed into gari, are maize, cocoyam, yam, sweet potato, vegetables and tree crops such as mangoes.
Due to these activities, the Upper Manya Krobo Constituency, with Asesewa as its capital, has attracted fishers and farmers from Ada, Ningo, Battor, Mepe and Anlo areas among other places, with a very negligible number of the natives engaged in fishing activities.
The lake has immensely helped in fishing at Akrusu-Saisi, Akotue-Tsreboana, Battorkope, Akorkorma-Sisi, Agbenyega-Poponya and Akateng being the major fishing community.
However, the intermittent shortages of premix fuel continue to be a challenge for fishing in the area.
Bad roads, the lack of potable water and a cassava processing factory to process the abundant cassava produced by farmers, which normally go rotten, are some of the challenges facing the people in the area.
The Upper Manya constituency was carved out of the then Manya Krobo Constituency, with its capital at Odumase-Krobo in 2008. That also gave birth to the Upper Manya Krobo District with the capital at Asesewa, which has one of the oldest markets in the country, and has found its way into a passage in an old basic school textbook under the title, “A Market Day at Asesewa”.
The constituency lies in the eastern part of the region, which is about 45 kilometres (Km) away from Koforidua, the regional capital, and an hour's drive between the two towns — Koforidua and Asesewa.
It has a voter population of 39,000, going by the 2020 general elections, out of a general population of 70, 676.
The constituency, since its creation, has been voting for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) winning the parliamentary seat once in the 2016 election, with Joseph Tetteh, popularly known as Joe Tee, annexing the seat, but the NDC recaptured it in the 2020 election.
The current Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Bismark Tetteh Nyarko, won the seat in the 2020 general elections, while the District Chief Executive (DCE) is Joe Sam.
A visit to the lakeside by the Daily Graphic last week Wednesday, revealed that some empty canoes had been berthed at the shores, with fishermen sitting beside their canoes idle.
The Secretary of the local Boat Transport Association, Nicholas Tsornyake, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said they did not get regular supply and required quantities of premix fuel.
He said all that they had only lasted for a day's fishing on the Volta Lake.
Mr Tsornyake explained that after exhausting their supplies, they had to obtain the commodity from middlemen at exorbitant prices, which made it uneconomical for fishing because they operated at a loss.
He, therefore, appealed to the government to, as a matter of urgency, supply them with adequate quantity of the product to save them from the middlemen who sold the commodity to them at exorbitant prices.
Mr Tsornyake said the middlemen normally sold seven gallons of the premix fuel to them between GH¢120 and GH¢150 instead of the actual price of GH¢65.
He stated that the situation had arisen because, instead of the community’s premix fuel distribution committee giving out the commodity to the fishermen, that duty had been assigned to people not related to fishing.
“Most of the people supplied with the premix fuel are not fishermen, and when we report to the district assembly at Asesewa, nothing is done about it," Mr Tsornyake stated.
The Chairman of the Inland Canoe Fishermen Council at Akateng, Ossom Asiah Tetteh Mausour, told the Daily Graphic that lack of the product had forced the fishing boat owners to berth their empty boats along the shores of the lake for long periods and that had seriously affected their earnings and their ability to cater for themselves and their dependants.
He said lack of the product had also made it impossible for the boats to ferry livestock, particularly cattle, sheep, goats among other things across the lake to the Akateng market for sale.
A fishmonger, who is also a boat owner, Joyce Ayittah, told the Daily Graphic that the shortage of the premix fuel had adversely affected the price of fish in the market.
She said most of the fishmongers who bought GH¢1,000 worth of fish, after selling them at places such as Accra and other parts of the country, had to come back with half of that amount because they sold at a loss.
The Dadematse of Akateng (community leader), Lawer Terkper, deplored the situation and said he had not been involved in the distribution of the premix fuel and that had made it impossible for the genuine fishermen to have the product.
He pointed out that due to the inability of the fishermen to go fishing, fish had become so scarce that they had to depend on imported fish stored in cold stores.
When contacted, the Chairman of the Premix Fuel Distribution Committee, Jeremiah Nyebu, declined to speak on the current shortage of the commodity.
No One-District One-Factory
A gari processing factory proposed under the One-District One-Factory (1D1F) initiative to be sited at Sekesua is yet to take off.
When the Daily Graphic visited the site, it observed that the place has been overgrown with weeds with only the billboard on the site.
A constituent, Bright Sogah, who was not happy about the delay in setting up the gari processing factory, said the site for the project, with an erected billboard, is now bushy with nothing on it.
He wondered when that project would take off to enable gari traders to improve on their trading activities to better their livelihoods.
He said the factory, if operationalised, would process tonnes of cassava to gari and that would enable cassava farmers in the area to earn meaningful incomes.
This, he said, was due to the fact that cassava cultivation was one of the major food crops cultivated in the constituency.
Concerns of Community leaders
The Dadematse of Sekesua, Nene John Kumi, said what his people needed were social amenities such as clinics, potable water and decent classroom blocks.
Tettey - Ku Gbadaji, was not happy that some of the communities which lacked potable water, health facilities and modern classroom blocks had not also been linked with good roads.
The DCE for the district, Mr Sam, said the scarcity of Premix fuel had been a problem in all the fishing communities countrywide.
According to him, people who were not in fishing deceived members of the Premix Fuel Distribution Committee that they were fishermen and managed to secure the product for sale at exorbitant prices, which needed to be stopped.
He, however, indicated that he would see how best to make the product available in the required quantity for the fishermen at the actual price.
Mr Sam said that the constituency had challenges and said the assembly had started rehabilitating the Asesewa - Sekesua Junction Road.
On employment, he said a vast land had already been acquired at Sekesua to put up a gari processing factory, in line with the 1D1F initiative for the gari processors to do their business effectively.
He appealed to the gari processors to be patient as the government was taking steps to bring into fruition the gari processing plant in the constituency to improve their lot.
He assured the unemployed youth that when the factory starts work, it would create decent jobs for the youth, as well as the women in the area.
The MP for the area, Mr Nyarko, told the Daily Graphic that his outfit promised the constituents a number of social amenities when campaigning for the seat in the 2020 general election.
He said he had started fulfilling the campaign promises.
According to him, recently, he started the construction of market sheds to provide shelter for gari traders at the Sekesua Market.
Mr Nyarko indicated that his outfit had rehabilitated the seven - km Fefe-Kokoney Road, the 4.5km Akatawia - Sekesua Road and the construction of a maternity/child healthcare centre at the Anyaboni Resettlement Community.
The law maker said he had also donated roofing sheets to roof a school building at Fefe, one of the communities in the constituency, which was destroyed by rainstorm, and to rehabilitate schools in communities such as Akonta, Takorase and Tubuorso among others.
"I'm only two years in Parliament and that is too early for me to complete any capital intensive projects I have initiated.
"A lot of such projects are ongoing at different communities in the constituency, which are at various stages of completion, and with different sources of funding ," the MP said.
He said he was aware of the needs of the constituents, which included a gari processing factory, potable water and good roads.
He explained that due to the fact that the provision of such social amenities were capital intensive, he would be looking for funding from other sources to augment his share of the District Assembly's Common Fund (DACF) to finance their construction.
Mr Nyarko, however, was not happy about the continuous delay of the DACF, which he stated had not been forth-coming.
That, the MP stated, had affected infrastructural development of the constituency and at the same time retarded the socio-economic development of the people in the constituency.
The constituency has only one public senior high school (SHS) - Asesewa SHS- with a number of junior high and basic schools, primarily in the big towns such as Asesewa and Sekesua.
On the health sector, it boasts of only one state-owned hospital - the Asesewa Government Hospital- taking care of about 70,676 inhabitants in the constituency.
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