Construction work on a Wood Village at Sokoban for wood workers in the Kumasi metropolis is progressing steadily.
The Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) has acquired land at the area and is developing it into an industrial estate for wood workers.
The project would have facilities such as access roads and internal roads, sheds and stores, an administrative block and a modern car park. These facilities would be used by the wood workers at a fee to be paid to the KMA.
It is financed with funding secured by the Ghana Government from the French Government, through Agence Francaise de Development (AFD).
The chiefs and people in the Sokoban area have lauded the idea of siting the wood village there, saying the project opened job opportunities to residents operating in the wood industry.
They said land owners could also take advantage to provide other facilities that may be needed such as warehousing, show rooms, as well as provide commercial and residential accommodation.
Speaker after speaker from the surrounding communities at a sensitisation durbar organised by the KMA on the relocation of wood workers to the area lauded the idea.
The durbar was aimed at conscientising the community members to receive the wood workers and also to enable them voice out their concerns.
Madam Patricia Appiagyei, KMA Chief Executive, recommended to the project contractors to enhance the use of the facility by providing access to modern systems like automated gates and ticketing facilities and called on community members to support the project to enhance its successful implementation.
“Let us all, as partners in development pledge to support this project and contribute our individual and collective efforts to ensure its successful implementation”, she said.
She pointed out that “It is my hope that the activities of the wood workers would be mutually beneficial to both the host community and the wood workers”.
Other projects being financed with funds from AFD in the Kumasi metropolis under the Urban Development Project include construction of Oforikrom –Asokwa by-pass, improvement of the Lake Road, an interchange at Timber Gardens and landscaping of the Aboabo River bank.
The concept of a wood village at Sokoban, which is to serve as an industrial hub for wood workers was envisaged by wood workers in Kumasi themselves in times past but had remained on paper until now.
It was the Ghana Furniture Producers Association, now Federation of Wood Workers Association of Ghana (FAWAG), which conceived the idea in the late 1980s.
While some, especially those operating on large scale, have been keen about relocating there, the small scale operators were reluctant to relocate. There are presently 12 large scale operators located in the area.
It became necessary to construct a Wood Village as a result of the construction of the Oforikrom –Asokwa by-pass, which is likely to displace close to 5,000 wood workers at Anloga.
The displaced workers, are therefore, to be relocated to the Sokoban Wood Village.
Kumasi being the second largest city in Ghana is experiencing rapid urbanisation and accelerated population growth.
One result of this phenomenon is the severe traffic congestion as witnessed on the Lake Road, 24th February Road and the Sunyani Road which results in loss of working time, affecting productivity, higher vehicle running cost and negative environmental impact.
In an attempt to reduce the traffic congestion and its related problems, the government has secured funds from the donor partners to implement the projects.
The execution of the projects is expected to displace nearly 8,000 persons engaged in various businesses, as well as affect 141 permanent structures, according to the KMA.
The KMA Chief Executive , therefore, called on wood workers at Anloga and other areas in the metropolis to relocate to the wood village upon completion since it would enable them have expanded markets and easy access to wood, as well improvement in transport and utility services.
She said the KMA was also considering a move to create a hub for the numerous garages being used by car sellers in the metropolis and appealed to chiefs to help release lands for the project.
She explained that the move was to help prevent car sellers men from parking their vehicles on pavements to do business.