Ghana loses out on road project due to delay in execution

An intended 300km of roads to be executed under the Poverty Focused Rural Transport Programme (PFRTP) of the Ministry of Roads and Highways was reduced to 105 km as a result of delays and variations encountered in its execution.

Also, M/S DIWI Consult, the consultant for the programme, declared insolvency only after a year of taking the job and was unable to complete the contract, despite being paid €1,635,085 for 30 months’ work out of a loan of €7 million contracted for the project.

In view of this, the Department of Feeder Roads (DFR) assigned the project to M/S MDC, the partner of M/S DIWI.

The loan of approximately GH¢11.20 million and a grant of €200,000 (GH¢320,000) to the government of Ghana for the PFRTP was provided by Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Further, there was poor finishing and workmanship by the contractors due to honeycombing and crack defects detected in about 36 per cent of concrete structures inspected. 

There were again variations due to the long period between feasibility studies and tendering and contract award, which consequently resulted in only about 36 per cent of the roads envisaged being rehabilitated.

These were some of the findings from an audit report from the Auditor-General’s Department which were brought to light last Wednesday when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament met the Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Isaac Adjei-Mensah, and officials of the ministry to answer some questions on the findings as contained in the report.

Purpose of programme
The purpose of the PFRTP was to reduce poverty in identified rural districts with agricultural potential, while the loan was for the rehabilitation of selected feeder roads in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions.

The objectives of the programme were to open up the areas for investment in agricultural production to enhance food security, promote market access and build efficient transport systems from farms to marketing centres in targeted areas.

It was also intended to reduce post-harvest losses of food produce and ensure food security in the lean season, as well as reduce poverty to raise the standard of living leading to the achievement of a middle-income status.

The purpose of the audit was to determine whether the DFR had ensured that there was economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the procurement and implementation of the road rehabilitation projects.

Insolvency of consultant
When quizzed about the insolvency declared by the consultant just after 12 months, the representatives of the Roads and Highways Ministry said, ‘We can’t be blamed for the consultant’s insolvency because we went by the criteria to select him.’

However, in answer to a question by the Ranking Member of the PAC, Alhaji Ibrahim Dey Abubakari, on whether the ministry had investigated if the consultant had lied to it to win the contract, after he had declared insolvency, Mr Adjei-Mensah tersely replied, ‘We did not do that. We were concerned about the benefit of the project to the people.’

Increased cost
According to the Director of the DFR, Mr Francis Digber, the increased scope of works as a result of further deterioration of the roads due to the delay in execution caused the increase in cost.

‘In real terms, however, the cost was the same,’ he stated.

He explained that although the loan was in euros, payment was done in cedis, which was part of the reason €270,000 had been saved and was currently being used for a six-km road which was about 41 per cent completed.

On the way forward, the Chief Director of the ministry, Mr Godwin Brocke, said a process had been initiated for a checklist that would afford all agencies adequate time for the execution of projects to prevent variations from occurring.

Standards lowered for local contractors
One of the issues that emerged at the sitting was the lowering of prequalification standards for local contractors, but Mr Adjei-Mensah said the standards were set by KfW.

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