President Akufo-Addo’s penchant for launching and commissioning projects his predecessor already inaugurated, is continuing more than two years into his administration.
There are many examples of projects the President and his appointees, have wasted time and scarce resources to re-launch or re-inaugurate in their apparent quest to claim political credit with the latest being,the US$97 million e-justice project launched by the President on Wednesday.
The e-Justice project, which was launched with support from the current Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo on Wednesday, was inaugurated five years ago by the then Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, under the Inter-Ministerial Oversight and Technical Committees of the e-Transform Project,on Monday November 26, 2014.
Dr. Omane Boamah, delivering a speech, said the $97 million e-Transform Project was a World Bank sponsored initiative aimed at supporting Ghana’s on-going effort to improve the efficiency and coverage of government service delivery using Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
He said, the facility was secured to implement the e-Transform Project over a five year period to improve the efficiency and coverage of government service delivery using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a major driver of President Mahama’s socio-economic transformational agenda.
Among the projects that were to be executed under the initiative, were: e-Health, e-Education, e-Justice including the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General Department, e-Immigration among others.
Not long ago, same President Akufo-Addo and Ministers of Communications and health, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, and Kweku Agyeman Manu, District Chief Executives (DCEs) and many others, are on record to have inaugurated projects that were previously launched and commissioned by former President John Mahama and his government.
Mrs. Ekuful is alleged to have commissioned an ICT project in the Eastern Region that was already commissioned by her Predecessor, so is MrAgyeman Manu, who inaugurated the already commissioned, Greater Accra Regional Hospital, formerly Ridge Hospital and replaced the plaque there with his.
Again, the government led by the Food and Agriculture Minister, used a facility that was secured by the Mahama government from the Canadian government, to implement it Planting for Food and Jobs imitative
The facility secured to implement the e-Transform Project over a five year period to improve the efficiency and coverage of government service delivery using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a major driver of President Mahama’s socioeconomic transformational agenda.
With the cooperation of the stakeholder Ministries, the Parliament of Ghana and the World Bank, the loan became effective in September 2014. It closing date was put at June 30, 2019.
As part of the transformation process, the project was to focus on employing ICT-based interventions, relying on prudent and efficient use of resources to advance shared and accelerated development in priority areas of Ghana’s development.
It was also expected to employ platforms to nurture new businesses, create job opportunities and promote entrepreneurship.
The e-Transform project he said placed Ghana at a higher level of digital sophistication hence the need to integrate the Inter-ministerial Committee into the management of the project for strategic guidance and policy coherence.
Dr .Omane Boamah, said the Inter-ministerial Committee also had the responsibility of ensuring that the Project Development Objectives, are achieved in good time, and it will take key decisions to guarantee smooth implementation of the project.
Before the 2014 launch byDr. Omane Boamah, many media houses, including the state–owned Ghana News Agency (GNA) reported the medical practitioner in August 2013, as announcing that five million dollars, had been earmarked for the next phase of the e-justice system to enhance administration and delivery of justice in the country.
Dr Omane Boamah, said this at the inauguration of a Huawei TP 3006 telepresence video conferencing equipment donated to the judiciary in Accra.The e-justice project seeks to infuse ICT products into the judiciary.
The inauguration ceremony which was attended by the then Chief Justice (CJ), Georgina Theodora Wood, was with the collaboration of the Ghana Judicial Service and the Ministry of Communication, and would be funded with a $2 million facility provided by the World Bank.
The project was expected to boost judicial transparency to facilitate access to a speedy, reliable and efficient justice system and enhance legal research and administration.
It was also to complement the existing court automation programme to facilitate electronic filling and fast retrieval of documents, shorten processing of cases, offer concurrent access to files from different locations and better collaboration between the judiciary and stakeholders.
Dr. Boamah expressed optimism that the provision of the facility would cut down on travels by staff of the judiciary from one geographic location to the other and carbon emissions by vehicular and air traffic.
Mrs Justice Wood, said the equipment would provide judges with a virtual courtroom setting where evidence, judgments and other testimonies could be taken remotely from witnesses living abroad.
She expressed the hope that it would improve case management and expedite justice delivery, especially at the Appeal division where additional courts had been set up in Kumasi, Cape Coast, Koforidua and Tamale.
Mrs Justice Wood said “with this facility, the sitting days will increase from four days to five days with judgment delivered via this facility to the regions from Accra.”
“This is because additional facilities will be set up in Tamale, Kumasi and Takoradi.”
Mrs Justice Wood added that Rules of Court Committee would amend their rules in order that evidence and judgments could be taken and delivered electronically.
On the benefit of the telepresence equipment, she said, it would reduce cost of transportation and risk of travelling among the staff of the judiciary.
By April 2016, Dr Omane Boamah, said government had invested $5 million into the e-justice programme in a speech read on his behalf at the launch of National Communication’s Authority (NCA) 20th anniversary and unveiling of its anniversary logo.
At last Wednesday’s function at the Law Courts Complex in Accra, Ms Sophia Akuffo, issued a stern warning to persons, who will attempt to railroad the newly launched Electronic Justice Project, a paperless court system rolled out by the Judicial Service.
“I will not deal kindly or lightly with any person who by any means attempts to railroad this system,” she warned.
The project would be rolled out fully among the 44 courts housed at the Law Courts Complex in Accra.
The Judicial Service of Ghana is the implementing agency and a South African firm, Messer EOH, is the Solution providers, with an American form Messer Leading Associates is playing a supervisory role.
The Chief Justice noted the E-Justice project and its desired outcome when applied would have value if the people working with it commit themselves to make it work.
She appealed to all to do away with interference and sabotage since those are the very attitudes that would kill public confidence in the system.
Ms Akuffo, stressed the need to apply process integrity and security to ensure the success of the project.
The Chief Justice said the service has learnt a lot of lessons while the E-Justice was being piloted adding that the judiciary was now ready to roll out the project in Regional capitals across the country including Tema by the year 2022.
“It’s our hope and grand ambition that this programme will grow and cover every court in the country so that every citizen in this country can have the benefit of a speedy and efficient justice system,” she said.
According to her, the lower courts which constitute the backbone of the judicial process would not be left out during the period.
She was optimistic that by 2025 all the courts in the country would be connected to the project adding that the Judicial Service was holding discussions with the World Bank in that respect.
Ms Akuffo was elated the E-Project would be able to completely exorcise the twin devil of delay and misplacement of dockets that had over the years characterized the court’s system.
“With cases filed electronically, there will be no chance of loss and it will be much easier to track the progress of cases and facilitate the due compliance with rules.”
Additionally, the Chief Justice said the project would eliminate the long periods that the citizenry have to wait while seeking justice and businesses held up over court decisions thereby making it less attractive for investors and slowing the country’s economic march.
“The new system would help us to play our role as partners in development and it would also boost confidence of citizens, who will now be eager to use the court to resolve their disputes, safe in the assurance that it will not take years or be derailed by a missing docket,” the Chief Justice stressed.
Mrs Ekuful, Minister of Communications noted that the E-Justice project marked a milestone in justice delivery in the country.
She noted that building courts with nice edifice was great, stressing without technology there will not be much change.
According to the Minister, digitisation of public life and the country’s economy would improve the citizens quality of life.
She said that the request by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court to be included in the E-Justice Project was receiving the needed attention.
She appealed to the stakeholders to manage the E-Justice project well since steps were being taken to secure quality network for the project’s operations.
Ms Cynthia Pamela A. Addo, Judicial Secretary, said the project would promote transparency and accountability in justice delivery.
According to Ms Addo, the project would also help authorized persons to file the cases at all times.