Ofori-Atta’s Anti-Volta Region Budget Sparks Trouble

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Following concerns over the absence of road projects for the Volta Region in the 2020 budget, Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, says there was a mistake in the document.

But the Volta Caucus in Parliament, has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to apologize to the Chiefs and indigenes of the Region, for omitting the region from the critical list of road projects to be worked on in 2020, from the budget statement.

The call was made in Parliament yesterday at a Press Conference by the Caucus.

Among the very bad roads are the famous eastern corridor road which stretches from Asikuma through Hohoe into the Oti region, the Ho-Aflao stretch, the Sogakope Bridge (which has been refurbished except not to the expectation of residents), Afiadenyigba-Anloga, Sokode-Akrorfu-Bame-Kpeve, and the Bame to Dzolokpuita roads among many others.

Fix Abandon Volta RoadsBad Eastern Corridor Roads

“It was obviously a mistake,” the Senior Minister explained on Citi FM Breakfast Show yesterday, noting that he was also taken aback by the omission and said he  had questioned the minister, over the “mistake” and he told him it was a mistake.

The senior minister, said the Minister had spoken to him from his base in Japan, shortly after the presentation of the budget to Parliament

A Deputy Finance Minister, Charles Adu Boahen, yesterday also said he was surprised about the omission of the Volta Region in the distribution of the road projects in the 2020 budget.

Mr Osafo-Maafo, said he has since conferred with the sector minister, who confirmed that there was indeed a list of Volta Region roads.

“When I also saw it, I asked myself, how could it be because there were 15 regions instead of 16 and I asked him [the sector minister] and he said we have a whole list for the Volta Region.”

Mr Osafo-Maafo, also reminded that the Eastern Corridor road was due to receive attention in 2020.

“For the whole Eastern Corridor road we are doing, most parts of it will be done in 2020. A lot of the Eastern Corridor road passes through the Volta Region so you cannot talk about roads in 2020 without talking about the Volta Region.”

He also cited the Volivo bridge, and all roads associated with the bridge, adding that therefore “it cannot be so that there are no roads in the Volta Region.”

The Volivo 540m bridge is set to run across the Volta River on the Eastern Corridor Road. The deal on the bridge was brokered by ex-President John Mahama in Japan during a state visit in May 2016.

The Finance Minister in delivering the 2020 budget statement, stressed a focus on fixing roads across the country in 2020 and beyond.

“To get the road sector moving and contractors back to work, government will pay 80% of all contractors,” the Finance Minister said,

The government, has also identified what it described as “critical roads” across each of the 16 regions in the country.

The Finance Minister, also said COCOBOD has also secured funds to continue with ongoing and new cocoa roads.

Government had announced it would from next year, embark on construction of massive road infrastructure across the country.

Ken Ofori-Atta said on Wednesday that the Akufo-Addo government, has voted money for construction of major roads in all the 16 regions and fixing of others which are in deplorable state.

Deplorable state of some major roads across the country, have recently triggered protests from residents in those areas, particularly in the Volta, Western and Ashanti regions, with some vowing not to vote in next year’s election.

Some roads which were under construction have been abandoned for the past three years due to government’s inability to release funds to contractors on those road projects.

Following agitation from road contractors for government to pay monies owed them and protests from Ghanaians on bad roads, government in late October, announced it has released 2.2 billion cedis to defray part of arrears owed contractors.

Out of the total amount of 2.2 billion cedis, government said 1 billion cedis, will be paid to contractors funded through the consolidated fund, while 1.2 billion, will be paid to contractors funded from the Ghana Road Fund.

Government said it has since January 2017 to August 2019, paid a total of 1.7 billion cedis to road contractors.

Presenting the 2020 Budget Statement in parliament Wednesday, Mr Ofori-Atta said government would pay 80 per cent of monies owed contractors in a bid to get them to move back to site.

“Speaker, this is why we are going to focus more on fixing our roads across the country in 2020 and beyond. To get the road sector moving and contractors back to work, government will pay 80% of all contractors,” he stated.

He said some critical roads have been identified in each of the 16 regions and construction would begin on all these critical roads soon.

Also, he said the Ghana Cocoa Board, has secured funds to continue with ongoing and new cocoa roads, indicating that those roads will see work on them in 2020.

Under the Accelerated Community Road Improvement Initiative which was launched a month ago, he said some roads within the Greater Accra Region, have seen a facelift.

The first phase of the Sinohydro arrangement is also set to take off, he stated.

“Speaker, with this large number of roads to be constructed, the year 2020 can aptly be described as ‘The Year of Roads’ along with a focus on all our flagship programmes,” Mr Ofori-Atta declared said.

According to Ranking Member on the Roads and Transport Committee, Governs Kwame Agbodza, it is unconstitutional for the region to be discriminated against in terms of development.

Addressing the press in Parliament, Mr Kwame Agbodza, who described the Finance Minister’s omission of the Volta Regional roads in the 2020 budget as a “cardinal sin” queried why the Finance Ministry, has failed to, up till now, rectify the mistake.

“We condemn this unconstitutional conduct of Government and demand that within 48 hours the Chiefs and indigenes should apologise to and the region should be considered for its fair share of project.”

The Adaklu Constituency MP, also disclosed that the Volta Region caucus has refused to accept the Senior Minister’s claims on the Citi Breakfast show earlier today about the omission being an “obvious mistake”.

Mr Agbodza, also accused government of deliberately leaving out the Volta Region due to the region’s voting pattern in the past elections years.

“We have noted attempts by the Government functionaries to explain why this cardinal sin perhaps the Senior Minister’s as this being an omission and mistake is untenable. When was the obvious mistake detected and how come no correction has been detected as we speak.”

“We in the Volta caucus refuse to accept the unconvincing excuse of this mistake. We are convinced that this was a grand scheme to discriminate against the Volta Region by denying our constituents their fare share of the national cake just because of their voting pattern.”

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