No nonsense Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, has asked underperforming road contractors working on some cocoa roads to sit up or they risk losing out their contracts.
The CEO, said this when he paid a two-day working visit to Ashanti and Central Regions, together with the Roads and Highways Minister, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, to inspect some ongoing cocoa road projects.
Among them were two contractors; Frank Acheampong of Facol Ghana Limited, working on an 8-km Dunkwa-Ayanfuri road and Ussuya Yakubu of Ussuya Ghana Limited, responsible for the 24-km Obuasi Junction-Dunkwa road at a cost of GH¢59.8 Million.
The Cocobod boss, had expected 77 percent work done, but since April 2015, when the contract was signed and mobilization advanced to enable contractor go to site, no significant work, had been initiated since May 2015, because the contractors had delayed for three months before moving to the site.
According to Dr. Opuni, the two contractors, after having delayed the work after collecting from COOCOBOD received two separate warning letters but they were still behind schedule because they did not move to site as agreed. He told them he was going to give them the last warning letters, and if they are unable to comply with the deadline, the contracts will be terminated.
However, while commending them on the excellent work done on the paltry 10 percent so far, Dr. Opuni said the contractors have only one month to persuade the Board.
“We have already given you two warning letters. I am told you are one of the best contractors in the country, and if I see where you have already applied the bitumen, it is excellent, but the fact that you have delayed unduly, we are going to give you the third and warning final letter to you by tomorrow”, he told the under fire contractors.
Singling out Facol Limited, Dr. Opuni charged, “the contract was awarded last year December; he was paid advance mobilization in January, this year.
He also delayed two months until we gave him a warning letter before he came to the site’’.
The COCOBOD boss, disclosed that Facol ‘’was supposed to have done at least 30 percent by now, but he has done only 10. He is also going to receive his final warning letter. He has received two already and if we don’t see improvement within one months, that contract will be terminated”.
Unlike the two contractors who failed to impress the team, the COCOBOD CEO said the team’s tour of roads at Bekwai, Assin Nyankomasi and New Edubiasi, recorded very impressive work and commended the local contractors, and asked underperforming to back up by emulating their colleagues.
“Yesterday we went to Bekwai, Assin Nyankomasi, we went to New Edubiasi if you see the excellent work road contractors have done over there, you will be so happy, and this is what we want to encourage our local contractors to do”, he said excitedly.
Last year, Ghana COCOBOD secured a loan abroad to rehabilitate roads in the five regions where the case crop is largely grown to solve the challenges cocoa farmers go through while carting cocoa beans from the farm gates to the buying centre. The regions benefiting from the Cocoa Rehabilitation Project are, Eastern Region, Western Region, Ashanti Region, Brong Ahafo, Central Region and Volta Region.
COCOBOD is financing the national project at a cost of $150Million annually for the next 5 years.
Dr. Opuni who could not understand the delay said “in the past, you hear contractors complaining that it is because the government has not been paying us but at least, I’m proud to say that, Ghana COCOBOD, as we were directed by His Excellency John Dramani Mahama that we should support the Ministry of Roads, we have been paying the contractors regularly. We pay them on time so they don’t have any reason to underperform’’.
On Ussuya, he said “you were supposed to have done about 77 percent of the project but now, you have done according to the regional engineer, 48 percent’’ adding, “the excuse of relocation of pipelines in Dunkwa town roads, I don’t want to know because the road does not start from the town.
It starts so many kilometers away and as we traveled along, we all have seen that you delayed unduly”.
He noted that the warning to terminate contracts was for all contractors working under the cocoa road projects adding, the cocobod team will visit
the remaining regions, and contractors that will deliver excellent job will be rewarded with more contracts.
On the part of the Road Minister, he said the inability of the contractors to finish the work on schedule has brought some discomfort to residents and motorists on such roads.
Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, said the visit was important “to keep contracts on their toes and let them understand that, having awarded the contracts, we will not sit in Accra and wait for reports’’.
He could not fathom the reason behind the delay ‘’because the contractors had been given mobilization to come and start work’’.
Some took mobilization and only reported after three months. Indeed, one contractor confessed that he reported five months after taken the mobilization so there could not be any possible justifiable reasons for the delay, according to the road minister.
Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, therefore, advised the contractors to do well by working harder so that they do not incur the wrath of the Dr. Opuni.
“They shouldn’t force him to issue the third warning because the third warning will be possible termination”, he warned
The Minister continued that the contractors needed to understand that when “we come and the language appears harsh, we are mirroring and reflecting the sentiments of the people”.
‘’Please understand that it is very important, this is your country, and when you invest in the road network, you are investing in yourself’’, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini said.
He was hopeful the contractors will improve on their works “what we have realized among contractors is that anytime that we do snap visits like this, they know we are watching and so they increase their tempo’’.
Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, however, commended COCOBOD for being the one responsible for the funding of the cocoa roads. “I commend COCOBOD for this initiative because really they are helping to solve a problem which otherwise would have taken a longer period to solve”, he concluded.