Ministry debunks Afram Plains MPs’ allegation of road construction bias

The Ministry of Roads and Highways has debunked the allegation of road construction bias against it by the Members of Parliament (MPs) for Afram Plains North and South. The Ministry in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency said a joint statement issued by Madam Betty Nana Efua Krosbi Mensah, MP for Afram Plains North and Mr Joseph Appiah Boateng, MP Afram Plains South, on diversion of road funds was not true. The Ministry noted that the joint statement was misleading and that the Members of Parliament could have easily sought the necessary clarification from the Ministry. The Ministry said in September 2021, the Minister for Roads and Highways and the Minister for Finance submitted a joint Memorandum to Parliament for the approval of Commercial and Credit Facility Agreements for the Design and Construction of Adawso – Ekyi Amanfrom Bridge and Associated Roads. It said funding was to be arranged and structured by Deutsche Bank AG of Germany. The statement said the project consisted of two contracts namely the construction of Bunso Adawso and Specified Approach Roads to the Adawso Bridge. This, it said, comprises Takorowatwen – Ekyi Amanfrom Road, Adawso – Kwahu Tafo Road (20km), Kwahu Tafo – Miaso Road, Miaso – Begoro Road and Begoro – Obuoho Road. The statement said the other was the design and construction of Adawso Bridge, comprising the construction of approximately 3.6km of a 2-lane bridge, including service lanes and a walkway to connect Adawso and Ekyi Amanfrom in the Eastern Region and the construction of a new toll plaza. The statement said it was expected that the two components of the project, with a total cost of pound 350million, would be executed concurrently and be completed in 30 months subject to the successful completion of the financing arrangement. It said the road contract was tied to the bridge contract to realise the full benefit of the project. The statement said following the approval by Parliament of the two projects and the financing arrangements, Government had continued to diligently pursue the funding for the project. ‘It is in light of this that Government allocated about $98 million under the $750 million African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Loan as a contribution to the road contract component after one of the financiers declined to participate in the financial arrangement,’ the statement said. ‘It is important to state that due to the current debt restructuring exercise, Government has not been able to conclude the arrangement of the financing for the project.’ It said this had informed Government’s prudent decision to apply the allocation under the Afreximbank facility to the equally important Accra-Kumasi corridor. It said the re-allocation would be applied to specifically the Apedwa to Ejisu section of the Accra – Kumasi Road. It stated that this stretch went through major towns such as Osino, Anyinam, Enyiresi, Nkawkaw and Konongo in the Eastern and Ashanti Regions. The statement said it was common knowledge that sections of the road within these towns were usually marked with heavy traffic congestion causing a lot of delays, accidents, pedestrian-related crashes and increased travel time. It said as part of the Ministry’s programme of dualizing the Accra-Kumasi Road, the following four by-passes, with a total length of about 40.40km, were to be constructed to improve travel time and safety along the Accra-Kumasi corridor. It mentioned the Osino By-pass (11.6km), Anyinam By-pass (6.1km), Enyiresi By-pass (9.1km) and Konongo By-pass (13.6km). The statement said eight different contracts had been signed with indigenous local Contractors for all the by-passes, which would be a three-lane dual carriageway with adequate drainage structures and interchanges. The statement said it was, therefore, disturbing for the Members of Parliament to suggest that the decision to suspend the project was ‘purely politically motivated’ and intended to ‘deprive the people of Afram plains of their share of the national cake and also worsen their living conditions as a result of the deplorable state of the roads.’ ‘Indeed, Government recognizes that the project areas have great potential to contribute significantly to the well-being of its inhabitants and food security in Ghana since they produce much of Ghana’s crop yields even though there is limited access to the rest of the country by the Volta Lake with the ferry as the only means of transport,’ it said. It said it was important to stress that Government was currently undertaking a number of road projects to improve the state of roads in the Afram Plains area. The statement provides below some of the contracts currently ongoing along the project road and the Afram Plains. These are reconstruction of Begoro Abuoso – Mpaem (including Kwahu Tafo – Adawso) – (38km) in the Fanteakwa North/Kwahu East Districts and the reconstruction of Begoro – Feyiase (20km) . Others are reconstruction of Ankomah to Kwahu Tafo Road (10km) in the Kwahu East District and spot Improvement and Routine Maintenance Works totalling 329km in the Fanteakwa North District and Afram Plains area. It said from the above, it was obvious that the Ministry, and for that matter Government, was committed to ensuring that all parts of the country get their fair share of the national cake in terms of road construction. It said the allegation by the Honourable Members against the Ministry of bias could not, therefore, be accurate. ‘We state emphatically that the decision by Government is not ‘purely politically motivated’ and is not informed by any ‘stronghold’ considerations.’ It said the Ministry was simply committed to providing the necessary road infrastructure for the socio-economic development of the country. It said the Ministry assures the good people of the Afram Plains area, including the MPs for the Afram Plains, and the public that the decision taken was in the interest of the general welfare of the people of Ghana. Adding that however, Government was committed to addressing their road network challenges and encourages all to cooperate with the Ministry as they strive to improve upon the national road network.

Source: Ghana News Agency