Quicken the pace of infrastructure development — Osei-Bimpeh

BY: Jessica Acheampong
Mr George Osei-Bimpeh   — Country Director, SEND Ghana
Mr George Osei-Bimpeh — Country Director, SEND Ghana

The Country Director for SEND Ghana, Mr George Osei-Bimpeh, has bemoaned the slow pace of infrastructure development in the country.

Subsequently, he called for a paradigm shift to make it a priority.

“The critical issue is that we need to quicken the pace of infrastructure development in this country.

The way we are going about it, it does not appear to be a priority.

“The pace is slow, and if we want to get to where they want to get to at the end of the four years, they will need to quicken the pace,” he said while contributing to discussions on the Scorecard, a programme by Accra-based Joy FM to assess the performance of the government’s two-year administration in Accra.

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The session was on infrastructure and social services.

He said there should be clear guidelines on the how the infrastructure delivery process would be rolled out to enable a better assessment of the sector.

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“There are some rehabilitation works going on that I have seen but there are some big works, something that will address a major spatial disparity issue between the north and the south. We may have finished the feasibility study but that is paper work.

“When are we going to start? What are the progress benchmarks in the budget that show that by 2019 we would have gotten to Techiman or another area?” he asked.

He said assessment of the work by the government was in relation to what it promised the citizenry and not by what the previous government did.

“When you are assessing an institution, you don’t use alien standards. It will not be fair to compare them to previous governments and use their standards to judge them.

“We have entered into a social contract with the government.

They told us that within the four years, this is what we will provide so it is based on that social contract that I will ask you,” he added.

Mr Bimpeh was, however, of the view that infrastructure delivery was one of the critical areas that the NPP government had not done well.

“I think we must face it and get them to deliver before we go on. On that basis if you ask me to grade on a scale of one to 10, I will give them 3.5,” he said.

Seamless transition

An architect and former mayor of Accra, Mr Nat Nunoo Amarteifio, said the government’s efforts in improving infrastructure in the country have rather continued seamlessly.

He said there was visible continuation of major road networks which was started by the previous government but was quick to add that there was room for more improvement.

“They have continued rather seamlessly from what the NDC had been doing. We have seen the continuation of major road networks,” he said.

Touching on the issue of flooding in the capital, he said the situation went beyond building gutters and drainages to include the provision of more public education.

“I know from experience that it is something that takes time and constant application so if you do not see immediate results, you do not jump into conclusion.

You just wish them better luck next time,” he said.

Mr Nunoo Amarteifio was quick to add that the government had done quite well but there was still the need for enhanced infrastructure development.

“In Accra, they have not done badly; the major cities, the connecting roads to them seem more than just adequate.

I am not sure what the situation is beyond these metrics and going into the hinterlands.

“One can only say they have done as well as what can be expected. We wish they had done more but for two years let us give them a B average,” he said.

Long-terms financing

The Centre Coordinator of CUTS International, Accra, Mr Appiah Adomako, said two years was a short time to assess infrastructure development for a government when it came to power.

He said infrastructure financing required a lot of time, explaining that “you cannot go for short-term borrowing to finance infrastructure.

We have seen that the government is trying an unconventional means to finance infrastructure and it will take some time”.

“We have seen the government trying to do barter with the Chinese companies to get funds to do infrastructure development.

It will be difficult to synchronise what they have pledged and what has been done,” he said.

He said although the expected rate of infrastructure development had not been witnessed, it was important to recognise that most new governments spent their first years stabilising the economy before focusing on infrastructure development.

“When you look at the first years, they spend a lot of time stabilising the economy and then in their second term, a lot of funds go into infrastructure development, and I think that same analogy can be extended for this particular discussion,” he said.