A 13-member management board for the Road Fund has been inaugurated in Accra, with the mandate to develop measures to ensure the effective management of the fund, with consistent inflow of revenue.
The Road Fund is a statutory fund dedicated to financing the routine and periodic maintenance of the nation's road network, including road safety activities and selected projects.
Sources of revenue for the fund are the fuel levy, road tolls, vehicle and licence inspection fees and levies from international transit vehicles.
The board was established in 1985 to secure sources of funding for the preservation of the roads.
Some provisions in the Road Fund Act, 1997 (Act 536) mandate the board to ensure that the nation's trunk, feeder and urban roads are regularly maintained.
The new board is chaired by Mr. Alexander Afenyo-Markin, the Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament.
The members include the Controller and Accountant General, Mr. Kwasi Kwaning Bosompim; Mr. Lemuel Quashie Martey of the Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen; Alhaji Abdullai Abubakari Yakubu of the Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council; Mr. John Kwesi Danso of the Ghana Institution of Engineering; Ms. Yvonne Quansah of the Ministry of Finance; Mr. Anthony Selom Dzadra of the Ministry of Energy and Nana Osei Bonsu of the Private Enterprises Foundation.
The rest are Mr. John Ashford Aful of the Association of Road Contractors; Mr. Frank Raji of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development; Mr. Godfred D. Boateng, nominated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; Mr. Prince Benjamin Aboagye and Mrs. Azara Abukari-Haroun, both nominated by the Minister of Roads and Highways.
The Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr. Kwasi Amoako-Atta, charged the board to work hard to turn around the fortunes of the fund, said to have been saddled with debts since 2016.
In 2016, he said, the then government used the road fund as collateral to secure GH¢1.3 billion from a bank, and "that debt is being serviced to date".
He appealed to the board to ensure a sustainable management of the fund and explore innovative strategies to generate funds to achieve its set goals.
"The previous board worked to refinance the debt through a consortium of three banks, and that brought down the interest rate from 31 to 21 per cent and also helped to pay some outstanding debts to contractors," he said.
He advised the board to collaborate with the government and other stakeholders in the road sector to achieve the aim of the fund.
Mr. Amoako-Atta said the fund was initially managed collectively by the ministries of Finance and Roads and Highways and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.
Following some administrative problems, the fund was restructured through the Road Fund Act, 1997(Act 536), leading to the setting up of a 13-member board with five representatives from the private sector and eight from the public sector, he explained.
Mr. Amoako-Atta said he had instructed the Road Fund Secretariat to come up with a schedule for the payment of outstanding debts to all contractors across the country.
"Today, the Ministry of Finance is beginning processes for the release of GH¢800 million to pay contractors across the country. On the average, the Controller General ensures the release of GH¢70.7 million into the fund, and we need GH¢112 million on a quarterly basis to service the outstanding debt to the consortium of banks, leaving an average of GH¢33 million a month," he said.
Mr. Afenyo-Markin expressed appreciation to the President for nominating him and the other members of the board and promised their commitment to work hard to achieve the set objectives of the Road Fund.
He said many more Ghanaians were likely to die due in part to driver indiscipline and poor quality of roads, "but by working diligently, we can reduce the carnage on our roads".
Working diligently, he explained, would include ensuring prudent management of the proceeds that would flow into the fund and ensuring that roads, highways and bridges were safe for users.