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Roads minister worried over capacity of contractors

BY: Samuel K. Obour

Mr Kingsley Inkoom (middle), Deputy Editor, and Mr Kobby Asmah (left), Political Editor, both of the Daily Graphic, interacting with  Alhaji Amin Sulemani (right), the Minister of Roads & Highways. Picture: NII MARTEY BOTCHWAYThe Minister of Roads and Highways, Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani, has expressed worry over the inability of local contractors to meet the benchmark of international financial institutions that fund road construction works in the country.

He observed that as a result of that, most major road projects were awarded to foreign contractors who had the capacity and were able to meet the requirements of the international financial institutions.

“The international funding conditions are difficult to meet and the local contractors usually fall below the line,” he said when he paid a working visit to the Editorial Department of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) in Accra.

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Later, in an interview, Mr Sulemani said local contractors failed to win bids because of their low capacity.

“Consequently, the resources we get from loans accessed from the international funding agencies are taken out of the country, as the contracts are awarded to foreign contractors,” he said.

He said the challenges militating against local contractors included the lack of requisite equipment and qualified human resource.

Solution

For local companies to be able to meet the requirements of the international financing institutions and compete favourably with foreign companies, the minister suggested that they should come together.

“Local contractors have to pool their resources and collaborate among themselves to share risks and opportunities to be able to compete with foreign companies. Unfortunately, this is something that is missing in the Ghanaian business culture,” he said.

He said the ministry had been organising capacity-building workshops and sensitisation programmes for local contractors.

 

Quality of roads

The minister also noted that despite the high cost of constructing roads, most of the road networks were not durable.

“It cost between $1.2 million and $1.5 million, the equivalent of GH¢2.4 million and GH¢3 million, to construct a kilometre of asphalt road. But it does not last,” he lamented.

He blamed the situation on poor supervision of road construction works, noting that “because we are not doing proper supervision, there is waste in the economy”.

Mr Sulemani said the construction of roads was a major social issue, as between 90 and 95 per cent of the means of transport in Ghana was by road, yet “the government is confronted with limited resources against many demands for roads”.

 

Road Construction freeze

It would be recalled that the Ministry of Roads and Highways, in July 2013, froze the award of new road contracts, in view of the huge indebtedness in the sector.

Road contractors claim the government owed them about GH¢400 million as of April 2013.

The minister said currently the priority was to complete ongoing projects with the limited resources available.

He was, however, hopeful that most of the ongoing projects would be completed by June 2014 to make it possible to consider the award of new contracts.

The minister said some road projects had delayed because of challenges with the payment of compensation to people who were affected.

By Emelia Ennin/Daily Graphic/Ghana