President to Cut Sod for Marine Drive Project on Friday
Ghana’s quest to turn its coastlines of Accra into a tourism enclave will be given a shot in the arm on Friday as President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo cuts sod for the Marine Drive Project.
The project, which covers 241 acres, stretching from the Osu Christiansburg Castle to the Centre for National Culture (Arts Centre), has been divided into three phases.
The first phase, which is expected to be completed in 2020, will have facilities including a board walk, restaurant, founders’ circle/park to honour the nation’s founding fathers, a 3000-seater concert hall, landing site for fisher folk, a wharf and a modern fish market.
The second phase will boast commercial properties, malls and hotels, while the final phase will consist of office complexes.
When completed, it will be the single largest investment in the tourism industry in the country.
The project, which has been on the drawing board since 1963, was first mooted by Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Catherine A. Afeku, described the upcoming event as a historical one that would turn the fortunes and look of the city around.
She recalled that it was the late Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, who between 2002 and 2005, helped to put a design of the project on paper but it did not go beyond that.
In 2014, the then Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts Minister, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, took it a step further by getting Cabinet’s approval for the Marine Drive Tourism Investment Development Project but again, it stalled because of challenges with the allodial owners of the land.
In the same year, an Executive Instrument was used to acquire the land, pending proper compensation modalities.
Mrs Afeku said when the Akufo-Addo administration took office, the project became her singular obsession.
“When you travel to the outside world, there are places people sit to breath, read and just relax. Our city has become a concrete jungle. The park will also be a place for children to play, read and be inspired,” she stated.
The minister said in the last 10 months, there had been wide consultations with various stakeholders, including the Osu Traditional Council, led by Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona IV; the Ga Traditional Council, represented by the Gbese Mantse, Nii Ayi Bonte II; Ga-Dangme opinion leaders; wulomei and other interest groups.
On April 17 this year, a joint traditional rite was performed by the Osu and Ga traditional councils to pave the way for the start of the multimillion dollar project.
As part of the agreement reached with the stakeholders, art and craft dealers at the Arts Centre have been temporarily relocated to the Kawukudi Park at Maamobi in Accra.
With at least 150,000 jobs expected to be created from the project, Mrs Afeku said priority would be given to indigenes of the Ga State and Osu when employing. Currently, the project is being executed by three companies—Attachy Construction Ltd, which is the anchor developer, ABP Consults, which is the engineering consultant, and Consortium—the designers and planners..
She said in the past seven months, some international companies, as well as local ones, had shown enormous interest in the project, adding that after the sod-cutting ceremony, prospective investors would be taken through the project management plan.
The Tourism minister said because the Osu Castle was no longer the seat of government but part of the project, it had now been turned into a presidential museum, which was inaugurated by the President on March 5, 2017.
She said it was currently hosting exhibitions, adding that the next phase would be for it to have wax figures of the country’s past leaders.
“All occupants of the castle will be relocated to an office complex under construction and the Castle Gardens will be renovated to host events,” she stressed.