€600,000 temperature controlled trucks left to rot at Agric Ministry

Two brand new temperature controlled trucks acquired by the Government with a loan from the African Development Bank have been rotting away in the scorching sun four years after they were purchased.

The cold vans were bought at a reported cost of over €600,000 under the Export Marketing Quality Awareness Programme (EMQAP) in 2010 to ensure that harvested vegetables and other horticultural products are protected from decay prior to export.

However, disagreements between stakeholders on the repayment plan for the trucks and a controversy over who should manage the two trucks have led to the trucks being completely abandoned.

The brand new trucks have been left at the mercy of the harsh weather at the premises of the Agric Ministry whilst the Vegetable Producers and Export Association (VEPEAG) and Sea Fritz Pineapple Growers Association (SPEG), Mango Growers Association etc haggle over how to manage the trucks.

The Project Coordinator of EMQAP Mawuli Agboka confirmed, albeit with regrets, that the trucks have never been used since they were bought in 2010.

“There were divergent views. Some wanted the industry to set up a commercial wing that would take care of these vehicles for them.

“These engagements became long drawn; more than what the ministry had anticipated because we thought the the industry would come and agree on how the trucks would be used,” he lamented.

The Project manager said at a personal level he had tried to get the stakeholders to agree on how to manage the vehicles but to no avail.

According to him, the stakeholders wanted to pay back the vehicles in a period of ten years, a proposal the government disagreed with.

He explained that government’s proposal was that management of the two trucks be placed under one body with the repayment period reduced to five years instead.

After several years of discussion, Mr Agboka said the stakeholders agreed to accept government’s proposal and wrote a September 13, 2013 letter confirming their decision to accept.

The EMQAP project which was initiated in 2008 at a cost of $26 million came to an end in December 2013 without the efficient use of the cold trucks.

Asked why government did not take the initiative to manage the trucks, Mr Agboka said: “Government is not a good businessman. That will be inconsistent with government policy of running it by ourselves. The idea is just to hand it over to the industry.

Mr Agboka dismissed assertions the vehicles were in a sorry state and were about to be auctioned.

Even though he admitted that the controversy over the trucks was regretable, he was quick to add that the project had chalked success citing the creation of the required infrastructure at the ports to keep the produce in good quality just before they are exported.

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