President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has charged the Ministry of Roads and Highways to speed up work on the construction of the 109 kilometre Bolgatanga to Bawku Road.
On Thursday, 5th October, 2017, day 2 of his tour of the Upper East Region, President Akufo-Addo paid a working visit to the construction site to see at first-hand the progress of work on the road, and also to interact with officials of Queiroz Galvao, the company in-charge of the construction.
Briefing the President on the work done so far, officials and resident engineers of Queiroz Galvao indicated that the project was a 109 kilometre one, with construction works on 25 kilometres of the stretch completed, with some 84 kilometres of the road still to be done.
Acknowledging that the road project was behind schedule, the Queiroz Galvao officials attributed the slow progress of work to delays in the payment of certificates lodged at the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
The sector Minister, Hon. Kwasi Amoako-Atta, MP, who accompanied the President on the inspection, told President Akufo-Addo that the delay in honouring payments to the contractors is due to the numerous irregularities the contract is fraught with.
Nonetheless, he revealed that $100 million had so far been paid to the contractors.
Delving into the contract awarded to Queiroz Galvao, Hon. Kwasi Amoako-Atta noted that the contract was awarded to the Brazilian construction company on 7th December, 2016, the same day Ghanaians went to the polls to elect a new President.
The contract, the Minister added, was awarded through a process of sole sourcing, in breach of the Public Procurement Act, explaining that contracts of such magnitude have to be awarded through a competitive bidding process, to ensure value for money.
As though this was not enough, the Minister added that payment certificates, as contained in the contract, are to be paid from the Road Fund, which is wholly inappropriate for road contracts of such magnitude. This, he said, is the reason why payments have delayed.
“The magnitude of this contract requires that payments be effected directly from the budget, i.e., the Ministry of Finance, and not from the Road Fund. The Road Fund was established to provide a secure source of funding for the preservation of Ghana’s road network, and not for the payment of big constructions such as this,” he added.
Again, Hon. Kwasi Amoako-Atta noted that 13.1 kilometres of the road had been subcontracted to another construction company, making the contract even murkier.
“As at August 2017, 22% of the road should have been completed. But as at now, only 14% has been completed. Discussions are ongoing with the Ministry of Finance in an attempt to migrate the project from one whose payment is dependent on the Road Fund to one from the Government of Ghana treasury,” he added.
Visibly disturbed with the developments, President Akufo-Addo described the Bolgatanga-Bawku road as “one of the most important stretches of road in our country”, adding that the disastrous nature in which the road finds itself means construction would have to move at a faster pace.
The President urged the Minister of Roads and Highways to “sit down with them [the contractors] and find a workable solution that will inure to the benefit of residents who ply this road on a daily basis, and ultimately, to the benefit of all Ghanaians. This is one of the most important roads in Ghana,” he added.
Prior to inspecting works on the Bolgatanga-Bawku road, President Akufo-Addo visited the Vea Irrigation Project in Bolgatanga. The Project, which is one of the two irrigation projects under the management of the Irrigation Company of Upper East Region, has a potential irrigable area of about 1,500ha, with the area currently developed to some 850ha. The project, also, through the Vea/Gowrie Treatment Plant, serves as a source of potable water for residents of Bolgatanga.
Later in the day, the President was also at the Tempane constituency, where he inspected the extent of damage to the Tamne bridge. The bridge had been destroyed by the activities of some unscrupulous persons, who, have over a period, removed the bolts supporting the bridge, and had cut the trusses keeping the bridge in place.
The Minister for Roads and Highways assured the President the bridge will be repaired by the Bridge Maintenance Team from the Ministry in two months.