Dwindling budgetary allocations cause of bad roads – Roads Minister
Stagnating investment in the road sector for the past five years due to dwindling budgetary allocations from the central government has resulted in only 41 per cent of the entire road network in the country, comprising urban, feeder and highways, being in “good condition”.
The situation of the country’s bad roads and the fact that huge investments are needed to get the infrastructure right caused the Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Kwasi Amoako-Atta, to share that concern with participants at the 2nd Ghana-Japan High-Quality Infrastructure Conference in Accra on Tuesday.
It was organised by the government of Ghana and the Japanese Embassy.
More than 50 Japanese businessmen, drawn from over 22 companies, together with players in the transport, railway and housing sectors, participated.
The conference provided a platform for co-operation among the public and private sectors of the two countries to exchange ideas and build capacity for mutual benefit.
It also provided the avenue for concrete discussions on the infrastructure needs of Ghana and mutual ways by which Japanese companies could co-operate with Ghana to meet those needs.
Addressing the participants, Mr Amoako-Atta said only 27 per cent of the over 78,000 kilometres of road network managed by his ministry was paved, making investments in road infrastructure a cause for concern for him.
He, therefore, wooed the Japanese business community to partner the government in Ghana’s infrastructure development in the mutual interest of both countries.
He said the government was pursuing an aggressive programme of streamlining business processes at the ports and in the public sector in order to attract and retain investors.
For the road construction sector, the minister said, the government was clearing the backlog of outstanding bills and procuring new projects across the country through competitive tender processes.
“Public-private partnerships (PPP) and other innovative private financing arrangements have been viewed by Ghana as a strategic way to harness the skills and finances of the private sector to deliver and close the gap in all infrastructural sectors, especially for road projects.
“The government, therefore, continues to explore and refine these arrangements as a solution to develop roads along economically vital transport corridors,” he stated.
Mr Amoako-Atta expressed concern over what he described as the inability of the local construction industry to meet the country’s infrastructural demands due to low capacity.
He observed that local contractors were unable to participate in internationally competitive tenders and capital-intensive infrastructure assignments, “since they are not able to meet the capacity and turnover requirements”.
He, therefore, appealed to the Japanese business community to partner local firms to undertake projects in a bid to transfer technology and promote better working partnerships, while increasing the capacities of local industry players.
For his part, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, revealed that the country’s housing deficit currently stood at more than two million.
Describing the situation as serious, he underscored the need for the private sector to partner the government to resolve the country’s dwindling infrastructure in the areas of housing, drainage systems and sea defence.
He said currently about 550km of the country’s coastal line was under risk, hence the need to adopt technological systems to protect coastal lines against the imminent danger.
A Deputy Minister of Railways Development, Mr Kwaku Agyenim Boateng, urged the Japanese community to get involved in the numerous projects being undertaken by the ministry, including the Accra and Kumasi Light Rail Transit System aimed at revamping the country’s ailing rail sector.
The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan, Mr Takashi Otsuka, expressed appreciation to the government of Ghana for the cooperation between the two countries and reaffirmed the Japanese government’s commitment to continue to contribute to Ghana’s development.
He urged the Japanese business community participating in the conference to take advantage of the platform to build partnerships in a bid to expand their areas of investment.