The centre, known as the Bamboo, Cane and Rattan Village, was put up at a cost of $416,000 and the amount was from the first tranche of the Millennium Challenge Account that accrued to the country...
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It will serve as a permanent abode for bamboo, cane and rattan artisans in the Greater Accra Region, particularly those who were affected by the construction of the N1 and the Akuapem highways.
Because of the lack of a permanent place to ply their trade, members of the Bamboo and Rattan Association were scattered in various parts of Accra, including locations such as the Switch Back Road, the Dimples-Dworwulu junction, the Spintex Road and near the Flair Hospitality Institute close to the headquarters of the Ghana National Fire Service.
In a speech at the handover ceremony, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources , Mr Nii Osah Mills, said the centre had come at an opportune time to save many of the artisans who were facing ejection by their landlords.
He said he was hopeful that the craft village would become a one-stop destination for shoppers in Accra and beyond who were interested in bamboo, cane and rattan products.
“This centre will be competing with the Arts Centre in Accra in terms of the volumes of craft works sold here. It will become perhaps the bamboo centre of our time,” he stated.
He said the government was committed to promoting the trade and development of bamboo and rattan products in Ghana due to the enormous economic advantage to be gained from the sector.
He added that Ghana was highly regarded in the use of bamboo and rattan in the West Africa sub-region because of the ability of those raw materials to reduce pressure on the forest.
Both bamboo and rattan are used in construction works, furniture making and charcoal burning. Bamboo shoots are used for food, watershed protection and carbon sequestration (the process of removing carbon from the atmosphare and depositing it in a reservoir) among others.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Prof. Kofi Baneong-Yakubo, said as part of efforts to advance the rattan and bamboo industry, the government established the Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme in 2002 to provide technical support for operators in the sector.
The Board Chairman of the Ghana Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), Professor Samuel Kofi Sefa-Dedeh, said the craft village comprised sheds, rest and changing rooms for the artisans.
He said the authority, in addition, constructed an access road leading to the centre.
He said the project was finally due for the three years after completion of the phase one of the Millennium Challenge Account, which was focused on developing the agricultural sector.
He noted that the idea to come up with the village concept followed the eviction of bamboo, cane and rattan weavers along the Tetteh Quarshie-Lapaz road to make way for the construction of the NI Highway.
“After many months of consultation, a consensus was reached to move them [craftspeople] to a temporary place near the GIMPA-Legon bypass. The affected artisans later identified a parcel of land at Ayi Mensah, which MiDa purchased with funds from the Millennium Challenge Compact in October 2009,” Professor Sefa-Dedeh said.
The Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr Samuel Afari-Dartey, said the commission had purchased an extra 1.12 hectares of land for future expansion of the centre.
He urged the craftsmen and women to obtain the required permit from the commission before harvesting rattan or cane from the forest.
The Secretary of the Association of Bamboo and Rattan Artisans, Mr Vincent Mawuli Wordi, said the centre had come as a relief to the artisans, who had for a long time been at the receiving end of the weather.
He said with time, the industry could employ as many as 20,00 people.
He urged the ministry to roll out advertisements and hold public education programmes to have the public informed of their new location.