A number of farming communities in the Builsa South and Sisala East Districts of the Upper East and Upper West regions have made an urgent appeal to the government to speed up work on the construction of a bridge over River Sissili, which links the two regions.
Members of both communities have pointed out that the construction of a bridge to link Doninga in the Builsa South and Santijan in the Sisala East District would facilitate the conveyance of farm products and enhance trade between the two regions at a cheaper cost.
At the moment because there is no bridge over the river, farmers and traders have to pass through Han and Tumu in the Upper West Region to get to Bolgatanga which is a distance of over 200 kilometres .
They contend that the construction of the bridge would ensure easy travel over a distance of just 45 kilometres to Bolgatanga, through Sadema in the Builsa South District.
The bridge would also make it easier and cheaper for farmers to sell at the Fumbisi Market in the Builsa South District where there is a large foodstuff market.
The river Sissili lies on the boundary between the Upper East and Upper West regions. In the dry season, it dries up, leaving a sandy bed that makes it impossible for large cargo trucks carrying food items to cross. Only four-wheel vehicles are capable of moving across the dry bed of the river. In the wet season, people are only able to cross from one region to the other using canoes.
The people in the affected areas have consequently resolved to construct a temporary bridge over the river to link the two regions through self-help, while they wait for the government to construct a permanent one for them.
A farmer at Nabulo, a large farming community in the Upper West Region, Mr Sayibu Salia, said the present circumstances forced some traders to sell their foodstuffs at cheap prices to avoid the huge cost of sending foodstuffs to the Upper East through Tumu.
Mr Salia, who cultivates maize, yam and legumes such as beans in commercial quantities, noted that a bridge was needed urgently over the Sissili river to link farming communities to marketing centres and also to avoid foodstuffs from getting rotten in the farming communities.
At a meeting with residents of the affected communities at Nabulo, the Builsa South District Chief Executive, Madam Elizabeth Afiuc, commended them for their self-help spirit. She said it was an indication of their determination to bring about improvement in their living conditions.
She urged the communities to exercise restraint and wait for the government to construct a permanent bridge for them even though they had written petitions to that effect in 2008 and 2013.
She expressed hope that the decision taken by the communities to construct a bridge on their own would achieve the desired results.
She said the Builsa South and the Sisala West District Assemblies would support the construction of the temporary bridge.
The Sissala East District Chief Executive, Mr Johnson Sabor, also commended the people for their decision to construct a temporary bridge while waiting for the government for the permanent one and acknowledged the fact that it was the responsibility of every government to provide infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
A retired educationist, Mr Henry Bipuah, said besides the bridge being urgently needed to enhance trade in the area, it would also contribute to improved health care. At the moment, he said, people who fell critically ill usually died on the way to the Bolgatanga Hospital, because of the long travel route through Tumu, instead of using the Sandema, which is shorter.