The 217 percent increase in contract sum from GH¢40.4 million to GH¢128.00 million for the construction of the 5.7 km Achimota-Ofankor road in Accra became a subject of concern for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament when officials of the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) appeared before the Committee yesterday.
The funding was solely from Government of Ghana resources hence, the huge interest.
PAC also questioned why a brand new BMW 7 series saloon car was purchased from the contract sum for the use of the Minister of Roads and Highways under whose tenure the project was substantially completed in September, 2012.
The Committee grilled the GHA officials, led by the Acting Executive Director, Michael Abbey, on why the contract sum jumped from GH¢40.4 million to GH¢128.00 million after the GHA had contracted a private engineering firm, TABCON Ltd., to do feasibility studies on the project at a cost of over $700,000.
The Committee was also clearly not happy with an amount of GH¢374,000 purportedly spent on training and allowances, which were not related to the project at all.
The explanation given by Mr. Abbey, who was then the Director of Contract at GHA, was that the BMW was purchased for the Minister (Joe Gidisu) to enable him to inspect work on the road in comfort.
Some of the members of the Committee, especially the Vice Chairman and MP for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea, and another Member, Simon Osei-Mensah, MP for Bosomtwe, were virtually mad over the explanation given by the acting executive director in relation to the purchase of the BMW saloon car for the Minister who was having an official four-wheel vehicle and another official saloon car.
“How can a new luxurious saloon car be bought for the Minister just to inspect a road when he has been assigned four-wheel official vehicle?” Mr. Atta Akyea questioned.
Mr. Osei-Mensah wanted proper explanation for the acquisition of the car which he said was completely misplaced.
He enquired about the whereabouts of the car and the current state of the vehicle.
The current Minister of Road and Highways, Sulemana Amin Amidu, who was at the sitting with the officials of GHA, explained that indeed the vehicle purchased for the Minister was to become a property of the Ministry.
According to him, after his predecessor had used the vehicle for some time, he realised it did not meet the specifications he wanted so he sent it to the Presidency for it to be replaced with what he felt suited his ‘taste’.
The Chairman of the Committee, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, demanded that the vehicle be produced for inspection to ascertain whether the BMW saloon car was, indeed, in good condition or not.
Contract Sum Reviewed
The GHA boss had also explained that the contract sum of the Achimota-Ofankor road was substantially reviewed because of changes to the original plan of dual carriageway into eight-lane road.
According to him, substantial changes were made to the Tantra Hill and Ofankor overpasses as components of the project.
“Mr. Chairman, the original width of the overpasses was 80 metres and this has to be increased to 380 metres because of the changes,” the acting director said.
It was also revealed that the delays in paying Interim Payment Certificates (IPC) had resulted in a cost of GH¢4.4 million in interest charges to government.
The Chairman charged the Ministry of Roads and Highways, the Ministry of Finance and the Regional Coordinating Councils, to streamline the payment of Interim Payment Certificates and also ensure prompt payment to avoid such ‘unnecessary costs’ in interest charges being passed onto the government.
The Chairman of the Central Tender Review Board, Idris Egala, who was also at the sitting, told PAC that the whole Achimota-Ofankor project got off on a wrong footing and that all the processes in the execution of the project were not followed.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr
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