Work is set to resume on the cocoa roads project which has been suspended for well over a year.
The project which began under the erstwhile John Mahama administration was suspended in July 2017 by the COCOBOD under the Akufo-Addo led NPP government, over discrepancies and financial irregularities in the awards of some of the contracts.
The Mahama administration was among other things, accused of awarding over 230 different road contracts to the tune of GHC3.5 billion under the project, an action that had dire consequences on the financial muscle of COCOBOD.
Further audits also revealed ‘outrageous’ cost components of most of the contracts, necessitating a directive from COCOBOD that the Ghana Highway Authority suspends works to allow them review the rationalization of each one of the projects.
After almost two years of holdup, the Roads and Highways Ministry has announced a resumption of work on the abandoned roads beginning this year.
Addressing the media at its maiden ‘Meet the Press’ event for the year 2019, Minister for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Atta noted that all road projects under the Cocoa roads projects are being taken over by the ministry with funding from COCOBOD through the Finance Ministry.
“Cocoa Funded road projects by COCOBOD contributes quite significantly to the road sector since its introduction in 2004 under the leadership of Former President John Agyekum Kufuor but regrettably in recent years it has also suffered another chequered history which led to its suspension by COCOBOD.”
“I am however happy to announce that arrangements currently are being made for the Ministry of Roads and Highways to take over all the outstanding Cocoa roads projects that had stalled for completion with COCOBOD providing the payments through the Ministry of Finance,” the Minister announced.
Touching on progress the ministry has made regarding the 646 million US Dollar Master Project Support Agreement signed with Sinohydro Corporation, Mr. Amoako-Atta noted that arrangements are currently underway to ensure that the first phase of the project folds out almost immediately, with the second following closely in June this year.
This he says will allow for close monitoring and stability of the projects.
“The government of Ghana has signed a Master Project Support Agreement with Synohydro Coporation Ltd. to support priority infrastructure projects in Ghana. This agreement is the single largest investment in the road sector since time immemorial,” he said.
He adds, “This came about because the Republic of Ghana is lucky to have a progressive, visionary, innovative leader and government and my ministry is making every effort and doing everything to ensure that all projects that come under this facility are properly executed with speed but without compromising quality for the benefit of the good people of our country. Upon completion, the projects will enhance ultra-urban regional and national traffic flow and trade, strengthen economic and regional integration, and reduce cost of doing business in our nation”.
“The first trench of this amount, amounting to 646 million USD is going to fund this project and the first trench is released and construction under the first phase will begin in this first quarter. The second quarter which is expected to begin from June this year to ensure continuity of projects under this arrangement so that all the projects will be going on simultaneously has started with officials from Sinohydro Corporation collaborating with officials from my Ministry, are currently touring Ghana to visit all the roads that will come under the second phase”, he continued.
The maiden edition of the ‘Meet the Press’ event came off Tuesday January 22 at the information Ministry. The event is held yearly to enable the heads and agencies under the various Ministries, give account of their progress work over the past year. It also allows for media persons to have the opportunity to ask pertinent questions regarding the ministries and their work.