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Road contractors demand payment

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Mr Kwesi Amoako Atta — Roads and Highways Minister
Mr Kwesi Amoako Atta — Roads and Highways Minister

Some road contractors yesterday massed up on the premises of the Ministry of Roads and Highways to demand the payment of moneys owed them over the past three years.

The contractors, who said they had executed contracts such as routine maintenance, construction of drains, cocoa roads and asphalting, complained that they had not been paid since 2016.

Wearing red bands on their arms and heads, they chanted and shouted "we need our money", "our bankers are chasing us", "delayed payment is killing us", "government must act now", among others in perhaps the most unyielding effort to engage government on their issue.

They said they had been pushed to the wall because the delay in paying them had visited untold hardships on them and their families.

They thronged the premises of the Roads and Highways Ministry at about 11 a.m., and stayed there for about three hours, insisting that they would not leave until they got a concrete road map of a payment plan from government.

The presence of police personnel deployed to prevent possible violence did not scare the aggrieved contractors from venting their anger and frustration on the sector minister.

At a point, the contractors massed up around the reception demanding that the sector minister, Mr Kwesi Amoako Atta, should come and talk to them.

Concerns

Later, the leaders of the group, who have since constituted themselves into the Ghana Chamber of Construction Industries (GCCI), went into a closed-door meeting with officials from the ministries of Roads and Highways and Finance, while the other members remained outside.

Some of the contractors accused the government of hiding behind a supposed auditing of road contracts to delay the payment of their moneys.

They alleged that the government was being selective in the payment of contractors.

Addressing journalists after the closed-door meeting, the Chairman of the GCCI, Mr Emmanuel Martey, explained that no concrete agreements were arrived at because the meeting had been rescheduled for next week.

"We were told that there is a Cabinet sub-committee that has been set up to look at the payment of our moneys. We raised our concerns which were simply that we need a road map for the payment of the moneys owed us.

"Our people have a legitimate concern because they have worked and have not been paid and there is pressure on them from engineers, quantity surveyors, carpenters, labourers and their banks. If the government does not pay them, they cannot pay these people.

"We are not begging for money but we want to be paid what we have worked for," he stressed.

Touching on the allegation by its members that the government had been selective in paying the moneys owed the contractors, Mr Martey said evidence was being gathered from members to make a case.

Ministry’s response

Meanwhile, the Head of Corporate Affairs at the Ministry of Roads and Highways, Ms Winifred Nafisa Mahama, said she could not divulge any information on the issues discussed at the meeting with the GCCI leaders and officials of the two ministries.

"A meeting has been rescheduled for next week. We will confirm the exact date by Friday and communicate it to them," she said.