Smattys Deal Is Awfully Bad -NPP

The Opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has criticized government’s decision to brand hundreds of Metro Mass Transit (MMT) buses with photographs of President John Dramani Mahama and other former presidents.

According to the NPP, the branding exercise undoubtedly revealed the lack of compassion to the suffering ordinary Ghanaian.

The NPP’s Director of Communication, Nana Akomea, addressing a news conference in Accra yesterday, tore into shreds the government’s unpopular decision to waste huge sums of money just to put pictures of President Mahama and his predecessors on public buses.

Describing the bus branding exercise as an illogical one, Nana Akomea bemoaned that it did not only deprive the taxpayer, but actually caused him (taxpayer) to payout millions of Ghana cedis due to the larceny and recklessness that shrouded the process.

He said: “In the light of the acute poverty and dire hardships in Ghana, the decision to invest taxpayers monies into putting President Mahama’s picture and pictures of his fourth republic predecessors, on hundreds of public buses is a clear case of misplaced priority and insensitive decision making that is out of touch with the real needs of the Ghanaian people.”

Venture to project Mahama
The branding of the Chinese Huanghai buses for the MMT, with portraits of President John Mahama and previous presidents of Ghana was one of the questionable projects embarked upon by the National Democratic Congress administration.

The government spent as much as GHs3.6million on the exercise, an amount the minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu described as colossal during the debate to approve the 2016 annual budget estimates of the Ministry of Transport, last year on the floor of Parliament.

According to the pro-forma invoice for the rebranding of the 166 MMT buses, stickers on each bus cost GHc11.000.

The invoice, which was dated 17th July 2015, and signed by the accounts Officer of Smarttys Management and Productions and copied to the Ministry of Transport, put the total cost of branding for each bus at Ghs30, 420.00.

Following the details from the pro-forma invoice, government received bashing from the general public for dissipating a whopping GHs3.6million on what the Nana Akomea described as ludicrous adventure at a time when the Ghanaian is reeling and wallowing in abject poverty.

Defending its decision to decorate the 116 MMT buses with portraits of the sitting President and his predecessors –government contended that the branding exercise was meant to appreciate the contributions made by the president’s predecessors.

Notwithstanding the government’s explanation, the Minority Leader thought the amount being quoted for the exercise was huge.

“Thirty one thousand Ghana cedis for re-branding of one bus? three hundred and ten million old cedis on the re-branding of one bus? That cannot be tolerated,” he said.

“The excuse for this decision to put the photos of President Mahama and the other fourth republic presidents on the buses is ludicrous,” said Nana Akomea, stating it was nothing more than a “poor venture to project President Mahama ahead of the 2016 elections, and have the poor taxpayer pay for it!!”

Mired in wanton corruption
The Director of Communication of the NPP chastised the Mahama administration for gloating over corruption as it lacked the commitment to fight it.

Still referring to the bus branding scandal, he said this was “awfully bad judgement”, all in a bid to project President Mahama.

“The execution of this bad job is also mired in wanton corruption and brazen illegality,” he added.

According to the Attorney General’s probe into the scandal, the cost of the project was inflated in excess of GHs 1.7milion.

To be able to inflict this “big corruption” on the taxpayer, many of the provisions of Ghana’s financial laws were brazenly broken. That notwithstanding Smarttys sprayed and rebranded the buses long before the procurement process commenced, said Nana Akomea, quoting the AG’s investigative report of the scandal.

Nana Akomea further said   the payment processes to Smarttys were started even before Smarttys had submitted a quotation adding the request to the Public Procurement Authority for clearance to award the contract on sole sourcing basis,(as required by the law) was done after the contract had been awarded and executed!

As a result, stressed Nana AKomea proper and legal procurement processes were not observed, and no value for money audit was conducted.

 By Mohammed Awal ( [email protected] )

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