Ghana: Road budget bloated by over 200 per cent

By Dasmani Laary in Accra
Posted on Monday, 23 May 2016 11:32

Ghana’s parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC), chaired by an opposition legislature, accused the former roads and highways minister, Joe Gidisu, of demanding the BMW saloon car valued at $160,305 for the inspection of the road contributing to the budget shooting by over 200 per cent.

In fact all of us have to take the blame

The 7-series BMW vehicle had a comprehensive insurance cover of $6,672.

The PAC, which presented its report on performance audit report by Ghana’s auditor general on the construction of the 5.7 kilometre Achimota-Ofankor Road in the capital, Accra, last Friday said the full cost has now ballooned to 128.4 million, showing a 217 per cent rise.

The tender to construct the road was awarded to a Chinese company – China Railway Group Corporation – in 2006 and involved construction of a three-lane dual carriageway with three interchanges and service lanes to be completed in 36 months.

Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho said he was appalled by actions of the sector ministry for sanctioning payments outside the initial project cost, as well as parliament’s roads and transport committee for failing to exercise due diligence in safeguarding the public purse.

“In fact all of us have to take the blame, the engineers, those who did not follow procurement procedures and all those who approved of the project,” he said.

“You don’t need money to go around to be able to raise the red flag because every year, the committee recommends the appropriation budget for the ministry and that in considering the estimates due diligence could have been done to detect such expenses outside the normal contract.

“It is the committee that has failed this house and the house has also failed the people.”

Adjaho, who is reported to have, earlier in the sitting, warned that he would not tolerate shoddy work from MPs, also castigated ministry for making “unrelated expenditure” – payment of allowances to staff, refurbishing offices and sponsoring staff to pursue urban transportation courses at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, the majority chief whip, said it was time the acquisition of luxurious vehicles for inspection of projects stopped because the nation was facing economic problems.

He urged the buying of pick-up trucks instead into a pool for ministers to use for projects supervision instead of buying luxurious vehicles every time a project was undertaken.

The 5.7 kilometre road, which was expected to be completed in three years, dragged into its sixth year due to what officials claimed were challenges largely relating to financing and changes in the initial designs.

Standing order 165 of the West African country’s parliament empowers the PAC to scrutinise audited accounts of ministries, departments and agencies’ appropriation of funds granted by the 275-member legislative body.

The PAC is one of only two committees of legislature chaired by opposition MPs, a move meant to deepen their mandate of probing audited accounts of state institutions.

The country’s parliament has often come under fire for not doing due diligence in exercising its oversight responsibility over state institutions leading to wanton abuse of funds.

A 22 million-cedi refurbishment of the legislature in 2014 was sharply criticised by some legislators and local producers that the chairs procured from China were of low quality, but leadership of the house defended their decision saying that local producers did not have the capacity.

During the Easter recess this year, the Chinese company that was awarded the contract – China State Hualong Company – secretly replaced the chairs after many were found to be broken.

The replacement confirmed critics’ earlier suspicion that the multi-million chairs were inferior.

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