It appears that the hue and cry by Ghanaians over the nature of roads in the country will not attract any major intervention as the Road Fund – dedicated towards road construction and maintenance – does not have enough funds.
According to a Deputy Minister of Roads and Highway, Anthony Karbo, the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration secured over GH¢1.5 billion loan from UBA to pay road contractors.
As part of the loan arrangement, the Road Fund was used as collateral and therefore releases that are supposed to go to the Road Fund rather go to the UBA at source to offset the loan.
Speaking to an Accra-based radio station over the ministry’s inability to undertake major road projects, Mr Karbo indicated that since the Road Fund had been “hijacked” by UBA, it was difficult to do so. He explained, “Last year , the fund committed itself to a UBA loan of over GH¢1.5 billion to pay contractors… .”
Apart from this, he stated that the previous government in the run-up to the 2016 elections, signed several contracts and made many commitments to contractors to the tune of over GH¢17 billion which has to be carefully reviewed to give the current government some respite and chance to undertake major projects.
Mr Karbo was unhappy that in some of the commitments, some of the contractors were made to start work even without a signed contract, while other contracts were signed without any provision for payment. Be that as it may, he said his minister and other key government officials were carefully reviewing most of the deals to ensure that the country saves some funds and also avoid being hauled to court for breach of contract.
“Our hands are tied. We are in a difficult situation. My ministers have had sleepless nights about the state of roads,” Mr Karbo complained as he reacted to the many calls for road maintenance and construction, particularly the Accra-Tema Motorway.
No Cash For Motorway
On the state of the Accra-Tema Motorway – which has been described by many as a death trap because of potholes and other dangerous defects – the deputy minister attributed government’s inability to fix the road to unavailability of funds.
He said although he and his colleague ministers use the road daily, there is little they could do immediately as the Road Fund is cash-strapped.
That notwithstanding, government is currently undertaking a comprehensive study of the entire Accra-Tema Motorway to the Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange to address the challenges once and for all.
The study, which he was hopeful would be completed by the end of October 2017, is considering expanding the motorway into three-lane dual carriage. After the study, government would invite strategic investors to bid for the project, which would be on a public private partnership (PPP) basis.
The strategic investor is expected to build, operate and recoup its investment and later hand over to the government.
“We are working tirelessly to ensure that beyond the limited resources available to government and the ministry, we get a concessionaire or get a strategic investor. Indeed, many have come before the ministry and expressed interest in working with us to ensure that at least, the current tolls can be used,” Mr Karbo disclosed.
From Fred Duodu