Kwasi Amoako-Atta — Minister of Roads and Highways
Kwasi Amoako-Atta — Minister of Roads and Highways

Engineers critical to infrastructural devt — Roads Minister

The Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Atta, has stated that the engineering industry can play a pivotal role in helping politicians make the right decisions regarding infrastructural development in their respective countries.

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He said the relationship between the consulting engineering industry and the politician was symbiotic, where politics and infrastructure provision were expected to serve the needs of the people.

“Politicians might appear irrational in their decisions, while the consulting engineer will want to be rational. In the spirit of working together, therefore, the first step in persuading politicians is to build a strong foundation of understanding to find a common ground for making decisions,” he said.

Mr Amoako-Atta was speaking at the 2023 FIDIC Global Infrastructure Conference in Singapore at the invitation of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC), who were celebrating 110 years of the organisation’s formation.

The conference was on the theme: “Infrastructure — there’s no time to lose: sustainable global (and local) strategies to build a better world” and sought to highlight the urgency of the need to invest in infrastructure sustainably at both local and national levels to improve the global environment.

The minister was delivering a keynote address on the key conference session topic: “Persuading the politicians — Getting the industry’s message across”.

The session sought to look at how best the industry could engage with politicians and other influential opinion makers to get positive messages across about the need for infrastructure investment.

Mr Amoako-Atta urged engineers to pursue effective engagement with politicians through collaboration rather than confrontation.

“Instead of imposing our views, you should seek a partnership approach.

You should be willing to listen to the concerns and priorities of our elected officials.

By understanding their perspectives, you can better tailor your messages to align with their goals.

 “It is, therefore, important that both the politicians and industry players collaborate and engage frequently to ensure the right decisions are made,” he said.

Continuous commitment

“Infrastructure investment is not a one-time endeavour but a continuous commitment to our nation’s development.

You must work with politicians and funders to create a roadmap spanning years and even decades.

A long-term vision provides stability and ensures that our projects align with the broader goals of the government,” the minister said.

Mr Amoako-Atta said roads were the dominant means of transport in Ghana, with a share of over 90 per cent of the movement of goods and people across the country.

He said the road sector currently had a network of 94,203 kilometres across the country.

He indicated that the government’s interventions, over the last six years, had led to a marked improvement of Ghana’s road network to 44 per cent good, 34 per cent fair and 22 per cent poor.

Pressing needs

The minister said in Ghana, road infrastructural developments were the most pressing need that Ghanaians wanted the government to address.

“Year in and year out, roads continue to make the top five priorities of the Ghanaian people.

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According to a 2019 report published by the Centre for Democratic Development

Ghana (CDD-Ghana), for the first time since 2002, road infrastructure topped the list of citizens’ priority needs, beating unemployment, which had dominated the list in all those years.

“According to the report, six in 10 Ghanaians, or 60 per cent, said roads were the topmost of the three priority areas they wanted the government to immediately address.

“However, considering the challenges in mobilising resources for the government’s development agenda, the industry players must work together to fashion out ways to ensure investment for the benefit of our people,” the minister said.

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“Over the past six years, Ghana’s road transport sector has seen tremendous growth.

The years 2020 to 2022 were declared by the government as “Years of Roads” with roads throughout the 16 regions of the country witnessing significant improvement.

The result of the six-year investment has been 11,975 km of roads, 33 bridges and six interchanges, among others,” he added.

He urged engineers to partner with the government to articulate ways in which improved roads and highways could enhance economic development, connect remote communities and create jobs.

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FIDIC

FIDIC is the global representative body for national associations of consulting engineers and represents over one million engineering professionals and 40,000 firms in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Around 800 leaders from some of the world’s most successful and influential engineering and consultancy companies met in Singapore to discuss the future challenges facing their industry and to debate the key construction and infrastructure issues and opportunities facing the planet.

Ghana’s participation at the conference was the second largest after China, with participants attending from the Ministry of Roads and Highways and its agencies, the Ghana Consulting Engineers Association, Bui Power Authority, Ghana Water Company Limited and the private sector, including some building and road contractors.

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