Work has started on the 521-hectare site of the Somanya Campus of the Eastern University of Environment and Sustainable Development.
Currently, soil testing and foundation digging are going on simultaneously at the site.
The site will host the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, the School of Agric and Agro-Entrepreneurship Development, a multi-purpose hall, lecture halls, administrative offices, the vice-chancellor’s residence, the pro vice-chancellor’s residence, residences for key officers and a students’ hostel.
During a visit to the site on Wednesday, various categories of workers were seen busily at work, while some equipment and materials were being delivered to a camp at the site.
The Production Manager of the project, Mr Rafael Bruno Ferreira, and the Administrative Coordinator, Mr Philip Yeboah, who conducted the Daily Graphic team round the site, said actual construction work would begin in two weeks’ time.
Mr Ferreira said work on the various facilities would be carried out simultaneously, adding that the project would generate direct employment for between 600 and 700 people, in addition to some indirect jobs such as those who would provide essential services for the workers.
In an interview in Accra, the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, stressed that “under no circumstance is the government going to abandon work on the university campus in Somanya”.
He said abandoning the project could not be an option, explaining that building the campus was not just by word of mouth but based on a law passed by Parliament.
Parliament, in October 2016, ratified an agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Deutsche Bank for a 38-million euro loan for the construction of the university in Somanya and Donkorkrom in the Eastern Region.
“So the government cannot possibly abandon it, contrary to perceptions out there, and the people should, therefore, be rest assured that, indeed, the project has already started in earnest, as early as December 4, 2017,” Prof. Yankah said.
This brings to rest rumours making the rounds that the campus is being relocated, which generated anxiety among the chiefs and people of the area who, at a town hall meeting, appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to intervene.
Prof. Yankah said the workforce, whose composition had been one of the concerns of the chiefs and the people of the area, would comprise 10 per cent expatriates and 90 per cent from communities in Somanya and its environs.
He said the expatriate engineers had already arrived in the country to work alongside local architects, adding that “nobody should entertain any fear of importing a workforce from elsewhere”.
He said the Yilo Krobo District Assembly could testify that the government had not abandoned the project because as early as June 2017 he had led a project management team to pay a courtesy call on the assembly in Somanya, during which the team held discussions centred on the university.
Prof. Yankah conceded that the take-off of the project had delayed a little because of some technical challenges, which he said included review processes by the consultant, engagement of local designers, earth works and crops compensation.
He stated that all those challenges needed to be resolved before actual work could begin, adding that they had either been completely resolved or were in the process of being resolved.
The project, which was originally billed to be completed in 24 months, is now expected to be completed in 18 months.
The contractor executing the project, Contracta Construzioni Italia, has executed a number of projects in the country, including the Air Force Hangar in Accra and the ongoing construction of the Kumasi Central Market.
In April 2013, then President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated a committee to prepare a road map for the establishment of the university to focus on addressing critical environmental sustainable development challenges.
In 2014, the Cabinet submitted a bill to Parliament, which was approved and endorsed by the President in 2016. The approval was ratified by Parliament in October 2016.