General News of Thursday, 5 October 2017
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Thursday charged the Roads and Highways Ministry to expedite work on the construction of the 109-kilometer Bolgatanga-Bawku Road.
He said the Bolgatanga-Bawku road was one of the most important stretches of road in the country, and it was unacceptable that the road should be in a deplorable state.
The President gave the order when paid a working visit to the construction site to apprise himself with progress of work and interact with officials of Queiroz Galvao, the Brazilian construction company working on the Bolgatanga-Bawku road, on the second day of his tour of the Upper East region.
Officials and the engineers of the Queiroz Galvao, who briefed the President on the progress of work, indicated that they had only completed construction works on 25 kilometers of the 109-kilometre project, with some 84 kilometers of the road yet to be done.
They attributed the slow progress of work on the project to the delays in payment of certificates lodges at the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
Sector Minister Kwasi Amoako-Atta, who accompanied the President on the inspection, told President Akufo-Addo that the delay in honoring payments to the contractors was because, the contract, awarded to Queiroz Galvao on the day of election, December 7, 2016, was fraught with numerous irregularities.
However, Queiroz Galvao has so far been paid some $100 million.
The Minister told the President that the contract, awarded through a sole sourcing process, breached the Public Procurement Act, explaining that, contracts of such magnitude were awarded through a competitive bidding process, to ensure value for money.
Also, payment certificates, according to the Minister, as contained in the contract, are to be paid from the Road Fund, which is wholly inappropriate for road contracts of such magnitude, accounting for the further delays in payment releases.
“The magnitude of this contract requires that payments be effected directly from the budget, that is, by 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.
The Minister said the contract had also become shadowy in nature as 13.1 kilometers of the road had been subcontracted to another construction company.
“As at August 2017, 22 percent of the road should have been completed. But as at now, only 14 percent 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.
Disturbed by those developments, President Akufo-Addo asked the Minister 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.
The President had prior to inspecting works on the Bolgatanga-Bawku road, 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 1,500 hectares, with the area currently developed to some 850 hectares. 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 of Roads and Highways assured the President the bridge would be repaired by the Bridge Maintenance Team from the Ministry in two months.