The government is to roll out a programme to supply free sandals and shoes to schoolchildren using the Defence Industrial Holding Company (DIHOC) footwear division, formerly the Kumasi Shoe Factory, as the main production centre.

It will add up to the free school uniform programme which has been in existence for about five years.

The President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, who announced this in Kumasi yesterday, said he had instructed the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Trade and Industry to take steps to get the programme going as soon as possible.
Mr Mahama, who was on a familiarisation visit to the factory as part of his three-day working visit to the Ashanti Region, said the factory might not be able to meet the immediate requirement but as the company expanded with time, it would prove equal to the task.
The shoe factory
The Kumasi Shoe Factory, which was owned by the Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation (GIHOC), was originally established by the government of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), led by President Dr Kwame Nkrumah, but became defunct in the early 1990s following neglect by successive governments, coupled with mismanagement.
It was not until 2013 that the government asked the Ghana Armed Forces to take over the project, which eventually revived it. Currently, the company produces boots for the Ghana Armed Forces.
New lease of life
President Mahama said hewas impressed with the injection of life into the company and said that demonstrated the determination of the government to push the nation to another level of progress.
Ghana, he said, was not retrogressing but was on the path to progress, in spite of some economic challenges.
Mr Mahama said the Ghana Immigration Service had also placed orders for the factory to produce boots for its personnel and challenged others in the security services to follow suit.
Employment creation
President Mahama said it was refreshing that the factory was providing employment for about 200 young people and expressed the hope that more would be added as the expansion programme proceeded.
Kumasi Airport
Earlier, the President had arrived in the region to a big welcome by the people of Kumasi.
He inspected work on the Kumasi Airport expansion project, which includes a new runway and landing facilities.
President Mahama said he was impressed by the positive changes at the airport and that very soon it would be inaugurated as an international airport.