Ghana has hit a 52 percent urban population due to massive migration of rural folks to urban areas. Whereas the country’s rural population was 80 percent and that of the urban was 20 in the 1960’s, the urban population thus stands at 52 percent with an annual growth rate of four percent.

Government in its response to this high population growth in the urban centres has organized a forum to sensitize the public on the new National Urban Policy which intends to give meaning to urban development and management in the country.

Speaking on the theme: “the new national urban policy; its implications and challenges to Ghana’s urban development” in Accra at the function which had Chief Executives of MMDA’s as well as local and international development partners, the Honourable Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Akwasi Opong-Fosu charged all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA’s) as well as stakeholders to ensure regular forums are held to enhance policy dialogue amongst national and local governments, community representatives as well as civil society groups in order to develop practical capacities of key actors in the urban development and management.

Mr. Opong-Fosu noted that “urbanization is a global and natural phenomenon for development, and we must as a nation begin to discuss urbanization as a national issue, so that together, we can fashion out pragmatic and workable actions towards sustainable urban development in Ghana”

On his part, the Chairman of the National Development Planning Committee (NDPC) and Senior Advisor to the President, Mr. Paul Victor Obeng, in his keynote address cautioned framers of this urban policy not to rest on their oars since a policy plan on paper is not an end in itself. He thus emphasized the need for strategies in the wise use of land and factors that will contribute to the realization of a standard urbanization scheme.

Mr. Obeng then admonished all stakeholders including Town and Country Planning Authorities, Engineers, Artisans and concerned citizens to get their hands on deck.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Roads and Highways, Amin Amidu Sulemani has opined that, the key factor in this new paradigm of development should be the integration of land use and infrastructure planning since available evidence shows that, merely creating new lanes or roads are no panacea for congestion in the country. He consequently emphasized the inclusion of complimentary transport modes such as rail, cycling and walking while improving road transportation through the adoption of mass transit systems.

The Road sector Minister pledged his readiness to support the sustainability of this new urban policy.

The Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing Alhaji Collins Dauda, on his part admitted the absence of an approved National Housing Policy as the first challenge to the New Urban Policy and bemoaned among others, the non existence of a National Housing Fund as well as a Housing authority under his ministry to oversee the implementation of the national housing policy.

He put on record that “we are trying to get the necessary legislation to regulate the activities of the Built Environment Professionals. We already have the Architect’s Registration Council… A Bill has also been drafted for the establishment of a Real Estate Agency Authority to regulate real estate agency practice….”

Alhaji Dauda then requested that, Housing be added to the name to read Ghana Housing and Urban Forum so as to create a bigger platform for this exercise.