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Year of roads

BY: Kobby Asmah
File photo
File photo

This year has been tagged “Year of Roads”, and across the country the government intends to embark on massive road construction and maintenance.

Any news about roads and the construction of roads is very exciting to the citizenry because roads are critical to the rapid development of any nation.

Lately, the media are awash with complaints about bad roads and the need for the central government or district assemblies to step in to fix, reshape, reconstruct or construct roads.

This year, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has placed emphasis on roads, with the President himself assuring the nation of that, just at the Roads Minister and other government leaders who have had the opportunity to speak on the subject matter have done.

Unanswered questions

But in all the assurances, I am looking forward to seeing the blueprint explaining in detail what this “year of roads” actually means to expectant citizens.

There are so many unanswered questions. For instance, what is the total mileage of roads to be constructed across the country? Roads in Ghana form a network of varied quality and capacity. What are the budget allocation and the sources of funding? Do we have any timelines, and by the end of this year what must we expect as citizens?

It will be exciting to know what the priority areas are and which contractors have been contracted to implement the action plan across the country.

Do we also have a standard of construction or it is going to be mixed construction, including asphalt, concrete, coal tar, grading, etc.

All these are demanding answers because I am yet to be told by the sector ministry or the agencies under it, as well as the district assemblies, of the comprehensive working strategy to fulfill that great promise which we so badly need.

Detailed plans

Indeed, the Ministry of Roads and Highways needs to follow up on President Akufo-Addo’s SONA immediately with a publication of its detailed plans for the ‘Year of the Roads’, including a listing of the schemes and the roads that will be maintained or improved, so that the citizenry can have some meat on the bones.

Rightly, our President can only limit his message to the headlines; it is the job of any minister to provide some follow-up detail on the headlines - whether it is Roads, Aviation, Health, etc.

That is what is done in all advanced economies. Usually, the technocrats prepare all the detailed back-up material ready for publication or for further briefing of the media as soon as the President or Prime Minister sits down or the Chancellor of the Exchequer sits down (if its a budget speech).

Make year of roads successful

Ghanaians, particularly motorists, would love to see real action on the roads. Many a passenger would complain of the bad nature of roads but drivers and car owners feel the pinch more because of the number of visitation to mechanical shops to fix their cars.

That is why key stakeholders in the road sector must collaborate with the government to make 2020 truly the ‘Year of Roads’.

Many consider the aggressive road development across the country as long overdue and strongly believe that it is now or never.

The common request of the people across the country is for the government to build their roads.

The country has witnessed some violent protests in some parts of Ghana over poor road networks.

Today the cry in many parts of the country is about the poor state of our roads. It is an unprecedented cry.

What needs to be done

What must we do to get the road sector moving and contractors back to work, government will pay 80 per cent of all contractors,” according to him.

Ghanaians want action on our roads, not words or intentions.

We need to know the critical roads across each of the 16 regions which will be constructed.

We also need to place emphasis on Accelerated Community Road Improvement Initiative

Accountability

In all of this, contractors must be held accountable for the roads they will be working on. In many parts of the country, a little rain destroys all roads with some developing serious potholes.

I am of the view that warranty clauses must be included in all road contracts. It is not justifiable that government awards contracts and the citizenry do not get value for money for it.

We all have a stake in the country’s development and must act well our part.

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