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Gov’t pays more for ”oil roads” in the Western Region

roadIt is costing government more to complete oil-funded roads in the Western Region due to improper planning on the use of the country’s oil revenue, The New Crusading GUIDE has discovered.

Investigation undertaken by this paper on the two roads in the Western Region which are partly being funded by oil revenue reveals that, delay in releasing funds for the projects is costing government dearly.

The Asankrangwa-Enchi Road, one of the two roads, is recording several millions of Ghana Cedis of cost over-run.

The 61-Kilometer stretch was awarded to a Chinese firm, Top International Engineering Corporation Ghana Limited, at the sum of GHC110.6 million.

Information gathered at the Ministry of Roads and Highways (MRH) indicates that, as at May 1, 2014, interest on delay payments for that project alone stood at GHC36.9 million.

Checks at the MRH also revealed that, although the project had undergone variations amounting to GHC396.6 million, pushing the contract sum to about GHC 509.2 million, government has so far disbursed over GHC906 million on that project alone due to improper planning on the use and disbursement of the oil money.

The road, which was captured in government’s 2014 Annual Budget as being 94 per cent complete, sources say, was awarded to Top International in 2007 at an initial sum of  GHC24.1 million with a completion deadline of three years but the contract sum had to be revised upwards as a result of these same inefficient practices.

The Sefwi Bekwai-Eshiem-Asankrangwa Road, another oil revenue funded road, is suffering from similar setbacks.

In October this year, work on the road halted for two weeks because Midwest Contract Works Limited, the Ghanaian company executing the project, had not received enough disbursement to enable it pay compensation to affected communities

Residents of Sompre, Bonsie and other neighbouring communities blocked the road with logs to demand their compensation.

The delay in releasing funding for the GHC43.1million-project, sources say, is costing government dearly as interest on delay payments begin to pile up.

Again, The New Crusading Guide found out that although the road is captured in government’s annual budgets as “Sefwi Bekwai-Eshiem-Asankrangwa Road”, only the 46 kilometer stretch from Eshiem to Asankrangwa has been awarded on contract and is being executed.

The remaining 10 kilometers from Sefwi Bekwai to Eshiem, this paper gathered, is not part of the contract.

The consultant of the project, Ernest Boakye, could not fathom why such a decision was taken.

These inefficiencies, The New Crusading Guide gathered, were all as a result of government’s quest  to spread the oil revenue over too many projects and sectors, thus, having very little resource to fund each project.

In 2011 for example, in addition to the Sefwi Bekwai- Eshiem-Asankrangwa Road and the Asankrangwa-Enchi Road, which received oil revenue funding of GHC11,530,624.76 and GHC5,416,022.34 respectively, 14 other projects across the country also received oil revenue funding, according to the Public Interest and  Accountability Committee (PIAC) Semi-Annual Report of June, 2012.

Similarly, in 2012, 16 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including the Office of the President (Office of Government Machinery) received oil revenue funding, according to the 2012 Ministry of Finance Budget and Policy Statement.

According to the report, GHC65,000,000 of oil revenue was allocated to the Office of the President to support its administrative processes.

But, Solomon Kusi Ampofo, Project Officer in-charge of Natural Resource Management at Friends of the Nation, a Non-governmental Organization (NGO), believes government is not undertaken investment strategy and proper planning on the use of the country’s oil revenue.

“We need to have specific targets we will want to meet using our oil revenue”, he said, adding that “such targets must be very productive areas”

He was against the practice where oil revenue was spread over many projects resulting into delay in executing those projects and not giving the country value for money for its oil revenue, stressing that, few specific sectors should be targeted.

“Beyond that, we need a long-term National Development Plan to drive our economic development”, he said.

Citing Botswana as an example, he said “revenue from diamond is channeled into education, agriculture and health as part of their development plan and this is yielding a lot of gains for the country. We can learn from them”.

According to Nana Kwasi Addae, Ankobeahene, and Nana Appiah Dwaah, Ebusuapanyin, both of the Asankrangwa Traditional Division, adequate consultation and communication between government and the locals in the execution of the oil-funded roads have also been lacking.

Their claim re-echoes a survey conducted in January this year by Platform for Coastal Communities (PCC), a Non-governmental Organization (NGO), in the six coastal districts of the Western Region which recorded 72% and 100% of individuals and traditional rulers respectively of the respondents being unaware of any project in the region funded by oil revenue.

Source: New Crusading Guide

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Reporting Oil and Gas project was launched on 4th June 2009atTakoradi, Western Region, Ghana by Penplusbytes (PPB – www.penplusbytes.org) with the vision of providing a one stop online information and knowledge about Ghana’s oil and gas sector
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