Heavily slashed budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Roads and Highways are likely to impact negatively on the various road projects in the country.
For instance, in the area of goods and services, only GH¢805,566 which represents about 10 per cent of the ministry’s requirement for the effective administration of the sector has been approved by the government, leaving a whooping financial gap.
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Again, with the budgetary request for assets, only 14 per cent, presenting GH¢165,617,270 has been made available to fund; the completion of ongoing projects, commencement of new/critical projects, settlement of road arrears, payments for matching funds and compensation for project affected persons.
These were some of the revelations made when the ministry took its turn to brief financial journalists at a special two-day advocacy programme under the auspices of the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) with support from Star Ghana.
In spite of the financial challenges among many others, the ministry is optimistic of completing many projects as per their scheduled dates of completion although the Chief Director of the ministry, Mr Darko, apart from donor funds, could not tell where the funding would come from to expedite action of the projects.
The government has made it clear that it was not going to approve any new projects as part of efforts to reduce the huge budget deficits which has impacted negatively on the fundamentals of the economy.
The move is also intended to ensure strict adherence to the spending limits prescribed in the 2013 budget while ensuring that old projects started were completed on time before new ones are roped in.
Donor funded projects.
The Chief Director said the majority of the donor-assisted road projects for all the road agencies will be completed in 2013 and 2014.
“Donor-assisted road projects which commenced in 2012 such as the Fufulso-Sawla, Agona Junction- Elubo, Ayamfuri –Asawinso will be delivered in 2015”, he said.
Mr Darko was also optimistic that the Tarkwa-Bogosu section of the Tarkwa-Ayamfuri road will be completed in 2015 although payment of compensation to project affected persons and for utility relocation remain the key challenges.
On the long awaited Urban Transport Project meant to ease the traffic congestion on the roads and improve the country’s transportation system, the project will deliver a Bus Priority route between Amasaman-Accra by end of 2014 along with the corresponding bus services which will be delivered in conjunction with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
He also noted that “The Bridge Development program, which requires GOG counterpart funds, will deliver a minimum of 20 steel bridges and major culverts by end 2014” adding that “The remaining 40 steel bridges will be delivered in 2015.”
Mr Darko was emphatic that; “A number of the wholly Government of Ghana funded road projects can be completed by 2014, if the payment situation to contractor improved.”
“Most projects are more than 50 per cent completed and expedited payments to the contractors will ensure completion by 2014”, he added.
The state of our roads is highly dependent on the maintenance strategy and revenue available to the road agencies. To sustain and protect the road assets of more than US$6billion, additional revenue is required for the road portfolio which has grown from about 37,000km in 2000 to 68,114km in 2013.
Road Fund allocation
The desired maintenance programme submitted by the road agencies for funding from the Ghana Road Fund in 2013 was GH¢611.06million.
However, only a paltry GH¢191.10million has been approved for the road agencies to undertake the maintenance of the road network. GB
By Charles Benoni Okine / Graphic Business / Ghana