Repeated road contract variations, has been identified as one of the major drains on the Road and Consolidated Funds, the Minister for Roads and Highways, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini has hinted.
The Minister, who is barely a month in the outfit, is worried and has challenged officials to improve upon the various road designs to reduce such expenditures in future in executing projects across the country.
He said, the officials needed to be wary of their variation orders association with their projects as it has resulted in huge cost overruns and serious implications for the already overheated budgets of the road and Consolidated Funds.
“GoG [Government of Ghana] funding for road projects continues to be limited and inadequate to cope with the demand from the communities.
The numerous variation orders associated with your projects, have resulted in huge cost overruns and have serious implications for the already overheated budgets of the Road and Consolidated Funds.
The Ministry, will expect that you improve your design and estimating capacities to ensure value for money on all your projects.
You should think through your projects from concept to execution, so as to reduce the negative aspects of cost overruns. Your road portfolio should contain projects that can be adequately supervised over the period for the effective results”, he advised.
The former Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, expressed worry over the phenomena last Friday, when he presented a speech to open, a management meeting of the Department of Urban Roads in the Upper East Regional capital, Bolgatanga.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central was in the region with his officials from the Ministry to inspect various road works in the region.
Mr. Fuseini, who had all his managers from parts of the country in that meeting, revealed another occurrence in the Ministry where officials have been busted in the bidding and execution of contracts which is against the laws of Ghana.
The Minster, who minced no words told the gathering that it was against the ethics of the Ministry and noted that these officials who are said to have opened companies to spearhead this illegality are being investigated by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and immediately findings are presented to him, those found culpable will be dealt with.
He cited an example in the civil service where people who are interested in politics, honourably resign to pursue that agenda. The MP chided those involved to resign their posts and form any company of their choice to compete fairly with others in the same business.
“My attention has been drawn by the security institutions to a very serious issue, that is threatening to mar your otherwise performances. This has to do with some staff owning companies and being directly involved in the bidding and actual execution of works. This is unethical and a direct conflict of duty.
The two road contractors associations have raised this issue during its interactions with the Ministry and have provided the BNI with companies of such staff. When the evidence is formally received, I intend to tackle the issue with the officers involved and ensure a cessation of the practice”, he warned.
The meeting was the first of its kind outside of Accra to discuss and assess performance in the first quarter, the core activities of the regional units, challenges and the way forward. While government continues with its decentralization agenda in the roads sector, the Minister said it will not shirk its responsibility to ensure that the Ministry’s mandate as the asset manager is paramount at all times.
The Ministry, has also noted challenges that adversely affect the operations of your Regional offices, including weak human capacity and the unavailability of requisite logistic to effectively manage the network which Director of Urban Roads Alhaji Abass Awolu, summed it up in his opening remarks saying “some of the offices are limping”.
Alhaji Fuseini hammered on the importance of effective communication during project implementation with respect to the people whom these projects affect. He said “while you continue to rolling out projects, you need to be mindful of the fact that the average Ghanaian citizen is now very discerning.
It is therefore important for you to improve on your project communication efforts in order that road users and beneficiary communities are constantly informed of progress and also the challenges on your projects and activities”. To this end, Alhaji Fuseini revealed that “My tenure at the Ministry will focus on this aspect of your operations”.
The Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Daniel Syme, called for more attention on the region on the part of the Minister insisting that the region has not had it fair share of the national cake when it comes to road construction. He said “some of the districts are still not linked properly”.
Earlier on Thursday, the Minister continued his inspection of some roads, drains and bridges in the Tamale metropolis of the Northern Region. A bridge situation at Tishigu in the Constituency of the Tamale Central MP which had been turned into refuse dump was inspected and promised that re-construction work will resume immediately funds are ready.
Other on-going projects including a road at Changli and bridges in far away “Over Seas”, an area in the Northern Region including the White Volta at Kpasenkpe, the Tuvuu Bridge being funded by GoG and the Austria on the Yagaba-Kubore district were all inspected.
On Friday before the team left for Accra, roads within the Bolgatanga metropolis and yet to be constructed drains were inspected. The team had earlier on Wednesday paid visits to the Old Garaga which is 100 percent complete, Domeabra JNC Kpasara Debre Feeder road, roads on the campus of the University for Development Studies (UDS), and most importantly, the popular Fufulso-Sawla road which Project Manager, Ashok Rambani said was 87 percent complete.
He assured the Minister that the road which is being funded with a loan from the African Development Fund (AfDB) will be completed on the scheduled date April 2014. The 147.5 kilometer road will cost the taxpayer, GH166, 000.00