From Sebastian R. Freiku, Manhyia Palace, Kumasi
THE ASANTEHENE, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has inaugurated a prototype vehicle built by local artisans, in partnership with a Netherlands-based NGO, AARDSCHAP Foundation, using simple tools from a cluster of engineering workshops at the Suame Magazine.
The vehicle, christened SMATI Turtle 1, is the outcome of years of systematic planning by the Suame Magazine Industrial Development Organisation (SMIDO), an umbrella of Non-Governmental Organization and development institution for Suame Magazine.
SMATI is the acronym for Suame Magazine Automatics Technical Institute, an institutional engineering training concept for the artisanal engineering industry being pioneered by SMIDO.
Last Wednesday, Otumfuo test started the vehicle, which was purposefully built for farming and police patrol purposes.
The Asantehene, after inspection of the vehicle at the Manhyia Palace, commended SMIDO for showcasing the engineering ingenuity of Suame Magazine and called for a renewed national interest and support to develop the artisanal enclave as a major national asset.
SMIDO Consultant, Mr. Nyaaba Aweeba-Azongo explained that the name of the vehicle was strategically chosen -“to reflect the immediate need for national intervention to salvage the imminent collapse of the artisanal engineering industry in the country, epitomized by Suame Magazine”.
Mr. Aweeba-Azongo said the engineering institute when established would streamline the apprenticeship system through modern curricula and engineering upgrading by master craftsmen to reflect the current trend in the global automobile industry.
He said the model vehicle would promote this engineering institute concept to demonstrate that given the requisite support by government, innovative engineering and technological products and services shall emerge from Suame Magazine to contribute to the socio-economic development of Ghana.
President of SMIDO, Mr. George Asamoah Amankwaa said there is enough testimony to indicate the potential of Suame Magazine to create employment and lead in industrialization when given the requisite support.
The SMIDO-Dutch partnership which was launched in February 2013, also seeks to forge partnership between the Rietveld Academy of Amsterdam, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and SMIDO, for exchange programmes.
Meanwhile, the vehicle is set for shipment to Europe for an international exhibition in the Netherlands in May 2013, to attract investors for large scale commercial production to serve the African market.
The exhibition, which is an initiative of the Dutch partners, to be covered by the international media, is to court international investor interest for the commercial production of the vehicle.
The vehicle would be formally presented to the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Eric Opoku, for his inspection before it undergoes a test drive to Accra for subsequent presentation to the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, after which it would be shipped to Netherlands for the proposed international exhibition.