President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been urged not to abandon the Komenda Sugar factory in the Central region which has remained shut since it was inaugurated by the previous government two years ago.
Former Trade and Industry Minister Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah says the government “…cannot leave a factory that was bequeathed to you by your father to rot”.
While admitting that the Akufo-Addo administration inherited the factory in a challenging state, Dr. Spio-Garbrah says the “baton” has nonetheless been handed him by his predecessor, John Mahama and he must “run with it”.
“We know very well that the NPP administration inherited a challenging situation for that factory because the quantity of sugarcane needed to feed the factory was not available and certainly not available from government’s own sources,” Spio-Gabrah stated
Built at a cost of $35million with an Indian Exim Bank facility, the sugar factory is sited in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem municipality in the Central Region. It ceased operations shortly after it was commissioned by President John Mahama in May 2016, ahead of the December elections the same year.
Farmers’ hopes of getting a ready market for their sugar cane are fast-fading, as there are no signs the factory capable of creating some 7,300 direct and indirect jobs, will see life anytime soon.
However, Dr. Spio-Garbrah, called on the government to prioritise the factory just like the ‘one-district one-factory’ programme.
The former Minister argues that Ghana, a country located in West Africa, which spends more than $200 million each year importing sugar from other parts of the world, must have at least 10 operational ‘Komenda Sugar Factories’ to feed and generate jobs for the people.
“So however way you look at it, the factory is important, the factory is necessary, the factory’s equipment is built, the factory has been [and] could be operational. It is a matter of this government prioritising that factory and taking it much serious than may be the case,” he added.
He said the factory temporarily shut down soon after it was commissioned partly due to the insufficient availability of raw material (sugar cane) to feed the processing plant. The factory’s own land had been encroached on at the time of commissioning, compelling management to depend solely on out-growers for supplies to feed the plant, he explained.
Prospecting for out-grower lands in catchment areas including parts of the Volta Region did not yield much result before the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lost the elections to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), he explained.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah dismissed claims that the Komenda factory did not produce sugar in commercial quantities since it was inaugurated insisting that “sugar was produced and some was actually sold.”
“The full capacity of the factory was not actualized but sugar was produced and sold on the market,” the former Minister maintained.
He was, however, unable to tell how much sugar was produced and how much it was sold for.