Suspension of Roads Projects put Ghana’s Economy at Risk– Kwame Agboza

Hon Kwame Governs Agboza, MP for Adaklu

Member of Parliament for Adaklu constituency in the Volta Region
, Hon Kwame Governs Agboza, has warned that Ghana risks losing millions of cedis in the road infrastructure sector if construction works on roads in the country remained suspended by the government.

According to him, the decisions to suspend severals of contractors, including cocoa roads due to the flimsy excuse of re-auditing them is rather causing more harm than good, since most of the suspended roads are deteriorating by the day, due to the onset of the rains.
No nation could effectively develop its public infrastructure when it is deeply steeped in the rot of contract review as apparently institutionalised in Ghana today.

Long before the 2016 general election, it has been a propaganda among members of the ruling New Patriotic Party(NPP) government that roads contracts awarded by previous National Democratic Congress(( NDC) administration are blatantly inflated or more pleasantly put, reviewed upward to the point of incredulity.
This propaganda had undoubtedly manifested when the party took over governance and  further took the decision to suspend all roads contracts including cocoa communities roads across the country, making transportation unbearable.

However, the Minority Ranking Member on Roads and Transport, Mr Kwame Agboza in an interview with THE REPUBLIC, questioned the rationale behind government decision to continue to suspend ongoing construction of roads across the country, especially cocoa growing areas.

He said, after over a year upon the bogus reasoning of contract auditing and reviewing on the roads projects and contractors have already mobilised, moved to site and started work with some of them nearing completion, government is still adamant on paying them to resume work.

“You cause EOCO to invite all the contractors for questioning, they came there, made available all their documents, what auditing are you talking about again?, this has been over a year now and I know the audit report is ready, so what is keeping the Ministry of Roads and Highways or the government for ensuring that these roads are fixed,” Mr Agboza questioned rhetorically.

The NPP government through COCOBOD in a letter dated 26th June, 2017 directed the Ghana Highway Authority to suspend works on roads in cocoa growing areas across the country.j 

 The government and the  Board of Cocobod claimed the action was to review the rationalization of each one of the project awarded by the previous government to ensure value for money to the taxpayer. 

It has been reported that government owed over 230 contractors in the country of about GHC2 billion and its was believed that necessitated the suspension of the road projects.

Bad cocoa road in Western Region

But Mr Agboza told the paper the decision was unnecessary and that it has affected the economy of the country, especially revenue mobilization in the roads and transport sector.

He added that other players in the road construction industry and the contractors, since most of them borrowed at high rates from the banks to pre-finance the roads are the worst affected.

“This road contract auditing has affected and is still affecting our economy. Everything in the road sector has come to a halt. Contractors who owes banks are crying, artisans, suppliers and including drivers who uses the affected roads are all in difficulties and it all boil down to our economy.  If the road is not good, drivers cannot move to bring passengers and goods including foodstuff from farms, suppliers to contractors have all lose their jobs, because of auditing, ” he fumed.

In his view, the alleged debts are not actually debt but a commitment by the COCOBOD, explaining that during the NDC regime, it spread the contract sum over a five year period and allocated funds annually from the syndicated fund to the cocoa roads.

He suggested that, the best solution was for the government to allow the contractors to continue the roads to avoid the deterioration and consequent variation of the contract sum, adding that after all, it was the COCOBOD in collaboration with the Ghana Highway Authority, which awarded the contracts to most of the roads.

Mr. Agboza further accused the government for borrowing without any project to show of, stating, “since the assumption of power of the NPP government, it has not paid a single contractor working on the roads and yet it has borrow about GHs3 billion and no one knows what the money are use for.”

He cautioned government to pay attention to the road sector for it is the engine of growth of every sector of the economy and that the neglect on the sector would puts the entire economy at risk, “saying, nothing good can really  move in this country, if our roads networks remained in bad condition.”

The minority ranking member added that, the unnecessary suspension of work on the roads could also cause the government huge loss, because apart from affecting the original cost, it could also incur additional cost to resume and continue.

He posited that in the last 14 months prices of construction materials and foreign exchange have been skyrocket, hence there should be reason for the rash of upward review of contracts if government redirects contractors to resume work anytime soon.

Some of the projects, especially cocoa roads, the Eastern Corridor roads, the Volivo Bridge, among others were NDC projects but have however become synonymous with auditing and reviews and this has cast a dent on the achievements so far recorded as a nation.

Already, some construction cost expert have noted that most of the unstable factor is the cost of transportation of bitumen from the refineries, citing that the only reason why a contract should be reviewed is the inability of the government to fulfil its contractual obligations to the contractor.

For instance, assuming the contract duration is 20 months and due to no fault of the contractor, the completion deadline is extended, maybe because the Government is not releasing funds as and when due, the contract would be reviewed because for every additional month the contractor spends on site, the government must pay.

Sources:www.tyerepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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