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General News Mon, 27 Jun 2005

Increasing Shoddy Gov't Constructional Works

Blame our technocrats, not ministers - MP

A MEMBER of Ghana's National Assembly, Alhaji Collins Dauda, has opined that the worrying phenomenon of increasing spate of slapdash government constructional works, which was fast dissipating the recourses of the nation, should be blamed on the technocrats at the various ministries and not the respective sector ministers.

The loud-mouthed representative of the people of Asutifi South, told The Chronicle in an interview over the weekend that it was very unjustified for ministers to be blamed all the time for any works undertaken by their ministries and which later proved to have been shoddily executed.

Alhaji Dauda, once a deputy minister in the government of the now opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) explained that most ministers had no technical knowledge on construction and only acted on the recommendations of the people who had the technical know-how at their respective ministries.

"Take the ministry of road transport for example. Dr. Anane, who is the minister, is a medical doctor and knows virtually nothing about what actually goes into road construction. He only bases his decisions on the advice of the experts at the ministry. So if a shoddy contract is executed, then it means the experts at the ministry did not advice the minister properly and should therefore be blamed for any such shoddy work," he stressed.

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The legislator further explained that the experts did the process of bidding among aspiring companies and that, before a certificate was signed by a minister for any payment to be made to a contractor, the technocrats must have expressed satisfaction in the executed job.

He, therefore, analyzed that if the lifespan of a road, based on expert advice is said to be 20 years, with all the necessary investment accordingly made by the ministry, begins to develop structural defects in about five years, then the people who provided expert advice on the project should be taken to task.

"The technocrats at the various ministries are there to ensure that the right amount of monies are spent on contracts. So if contractors are allowed to hoodwink the nation by receiving huge sums of monies for poor jobs done, then these technocrats must be those who should be held responsible for such losses.

"If they say Dr. Anane is inspecting roads, he is only moving with the pressmen, looking at the beauty of the road. He does not know what determines how long the road would last and does not know whether technically, the project has been executed as required by the tenets of the contract," the lawmaker analyzed.

Asked whether it would be appropriate, in the face of his comments, to always appoint as ministers, people with the requisite technical expertise on the functions of the respective ministries, his answer was in the negative, saying, "it did not necessarily require that, to have the ministries function effectively."

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For sometime now, ministers have come under intense criticisms for what the public considers as lack of effective supervision of works, a situation the public views as being responsible for the upsurge in shoddy works by contractors.

It is now not uncommon to see roads and buildings that were constructed a few years ago and valued at hundreds of millions, if not billions of cedis and which were expected to last for decades, appearing like some of the colonial buildings- just in appearance- but lacking the strength of the good old edifices.

Across the country, school buildings and roads that were constructed less that a decade ago are in a totally deplorable state as a result of how scruffily they were constructed.

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle