Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani, Minister of Roads and Highways, has never impressed me as one of the portfolio holders in the Mahama Administration, who deserve to be celebrated. His appreciation of the problems of state does not appear to justify state largesse spread on him monthly while moribund economic policies consign many Ghanaians to bed without food on daily basis.
With the 31 kilometre Teacher-Mante-Suhum-Apedwa stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway abandoned to its fate, the minister responsible for construction and upgrading of our roads and highways, has failed miserably to justify his position in this administration.
The deplorable state of road networks throughout the country tells the complete story of how Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani has failed to justify his position. Instead of pleading for mercy, the Minister of Roads and Highways touched on raw nerves during the week. On Asempa FM, an Accra-based private radio station to explain why Ghanaians should tolerate the deplorable state of roads throughout the country, Alhaji Amin Sulemani only succeeded in advertising his ignorance.
Instead of cooling down tempers following the spate of demonstrations against bad roads in the country, Alhaji Sulemani rather stoke the fire raging in various communities. The Roads Minister is quoted to have told his audience that taking to the streets and holding demonstrations would not construct roads.
“Hitting the streets will not help…We are in a country of so many demands,” he is reported to have told Asempa Fm. Attributing the delay in the rehabilitation of roads to lack of funds, Alhaji Sulemani is reported to have retorted: “Even a great nation like the United States of America does not spend its entire budget on road construction and rehabilitation, so Ghanaians should not expect the government to dedicate its entire budget to road construction.”
I consider this statement to be an affront to those of us who believe this country deserve better than the present state of our roads. No one in his wildest advocacy has called on the Mahama Administration to commit all its resources to the construction and rehabilitation of our roads.
The fact on the ground is that road networks in Ghana, fondly referred to by this administration as a Middle Income country, is a disgrace to the average Ghanaian. There is no Middle Income nation on earth where there is no proper link by road between the national capital and the second largest city. In our case, the state of the Suhum-Apedwa stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway, which is also the gateway to the north, is appalling, to state the least.
That stretch was given on contract in October 2008 at a cost of GHc158 million. For the past five years, this administration has failed to honour the state’s obligation in the contract. After several attempts to get the government pay for several certificates raised by Messrs. Water and Engineering Company of China, the contractor removed all its machines and equipments from the site and sent its entire Ghanaian work-force home.
Alhaji Sulemani is not telling us that this country is so broke that it is unable to mobilize GH¢158 million to pay for the construction of that stretch of road. If the minister cares to know, GHc158 million is not the entire national budget. At most, it could only be a minute tip of the millions of Ghana cedis and hard-earned foreign exchange that have been spirited away by agents of this regime in spurious judgment debts and other deals.
Under the ‘create, loot and share’ scheme GHc51 million of state money was handed over to Alfred Agbesi Woyome to fund the ruling party and its activities. For the past two years, the state has been pretending to get the financier of the NDC to pay back the money. There is the case of the 47 million euro handed over to Waterville Holding Company for no reason.
Under the watch of deceased President John Evans Atta Mills with current head of state leading the Economic Management Team from the front, the state of Ghana paid African Automobille Limited GHc618 million, in fulfillment of a very dubious contractual arrangement.
That is not all the state money virtually thrown at cronies. The Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency is on record to have thrown away GHc203m. of state money on service providers who provided virtually no service. Subah Info-Solutions were paid GH¢47 million.
As you read this peace, President Mahama has called for the abrogation of the contract under which the state paid GHc50 million to Asontagba Cottage Industries for the rearing of guinea fowls which were said to have migrated to Burkina Faso and the afforestation projects which recorded all planted trees withering.
The news in this directive is not only that there was no contract to abrogate, there is no mention of how the GHc50 of state money could be recovered. There is this small matter of GH¢200 million of state money blown by the Ghana Youth and Entrepreneurial Agency on doggy service providers who failed to deliver.
When Ghanaians are protesting against bad roads , it is not because they expect the entire national budget to be blown on roads. The anger of the average person stems from the fact that state resources are blown on phantom projects while state infrastructure is crumbling.
In the run-up to the 2012 Presidential and Legislative Elections, this administration over-spent the national budget by GH¢8.7 billion. There was no Parliamentary approval; neither have officials succeeded in accounting for how that money was spent.
For me as a discerning journalist, that amount was blown on the Trojan Horses of gifts distributed to get people vote for the party and its agents. In any society where probity and accountability have pride of place in national affairs, those who perpetrated this heinous crime on the people would be in jail by now.
Within the last five years that the NDC has been in power the administration has borrowed as much as $20 billion in the name of the people. What can any body point to as the product of this huge borrowing. I do not know how Alhaji Sulemani gauges the mood of the people.
The average Ghanaian is an angry person. When there are debts spread all over national activities while infrastructure is collapsing all over the place, this is not the time to taunt the people. If Alhaji Sulemani has read his party’s 2012 manifesto, he would have realized that this administration has failed the people of Ghana big time.
“Our infrastructure development,” screamed the NDC Manifesto, “will be intensified to accelerate the transformation of Ghana into a full Middle Income Status.” The manifesto promises three prong road network to transform this country.
The Eastern corridor road promised to link up Tema-Asikuma-Ho-Hohoe to the north. What the manifesto referred to as the ‘The Central Spine’ is scheduled to link Accra-Kumasi-Techiman-Tamale-Bolgatanga to Paga with Boankra in Ashanti Region as an inland port.
The Western Corridor road begins at Elubo linking Asemkrom, Enchi, Goaso, Sunyani, Bamboi-Bole to Wa and Hamile with Gambia in the Brong Ahafo Region as an inland Port. So far, there is very little evidence of progress on all these fronts.
In the preamble, the manifesto promised thus: “The National Democratic Congress is presenting to the good people of Ghana, the 2012 Manifesto that seeks to renew the covenant this party has with the people of Ghana in pursuance of our common and cherished goal of advancing the ‘Better Ghana agenda’ for all.”
Instead of advancing the cause to alleviate the suffering of the ordinary man, this administration has so far exhibited the tendencies to destroy the little left of state infrastructure. The construction of 31 kilometres of the Suhum-Apedwa stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway has been abandoned to weeds and mud while evidence abound that huge state resources have been misapplied to get the NDC to remain at Government House.
With the cedi tumbling to record low levels against currencies of our major trading partners, the withdrawal of subsidies occasioning spiral rise in utilities, petrol and all things that make live worth living, the average Ghanaian is an angry person.
If the Minister of Roads and Highways does not recognize that there is anger in the system as a result of the high cost of living and that demonstrations against bad roads are means of letting off steam, then Alhaji Sulemani is too naïve to hold a ministerial appointment.
His utterances on Asempa Radio the other day was definitely not meant to sooth the pain of the ordinary Ghnain reeling under the austerity of this administration. It is nothing short of provocation and should be called to order. This is certainly not the time to rub the noses of Ghanaians in the mud created by an administration that is too busy about nothing. GHANAFUƆ ABRƐ!