It has emerged that the erstwhile Mahama administration used the Road Fund as collateral for loans from a private bank before leaving office.
About GH¢1.5 billion loan was secured from UBA to pay supposed arrears to road contractors, although Mr. Mahama and his administration continuously signed road contract agreements using the already-stressed Road Fund as guarantee.
Under-Pressure Road Fund
The Bolgatanga-Bawku Highway in the Upper East Region, which Mr. Mahama recently claimed had been abandoned by President Akufo-Addo and his New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, is one of the projects tied to the under-pressure Road Fund.
The almost 116km road contract estimated at $600 million was going to be constructed by the Brazilian contractor – Queiroz Galvao – which became the darling construction firm of Mahama’s government.
It was a sole-sourced contract and the terms appeared to breach the Road Fund Act because the contract sum ($600 million) far exceeded what the fund could bear.
Election Day Contract
The contract was signed on December 7, 2016 – the day of the general election – when all the writings were on the wall that Mr. Mahama and his NDC administration were not going to be retained.
In spite of the constraints resulting from what looks like the lack of due diligence exhibited by the NDC government in the award of the contract, Mr Mahama, now in opposition, is turning around to blame President Akufo-Addo and his government for abandoning the Bolga-Bawku Road project.
During the NDC’s so-called ‘Unity Walk’ at Bolga over the weekend, Mr. Mahama appeared to incite the people of the Upper East Region against President when he said he (Akufo-Addo) had not done anything for the people over there.
“A lot of the projects we started have stalled. Many of the hospitals we were building have come to a stop. Many of the schools we were building have come to a stop. Many of the roads we were building have come to a stop. But I have one appeal. If there was one project that we started, that is critical to the economic devolvement of the Upper West Region, it is the Bolga-Bawku road,” the former president indicated.
“If President Akufo-Addo won’t do anything for us in Upper East at all, we beg him, as for that road, he should continue it and finish it for us,” he charged.
Deputy Upper East Regional Secretary of the ruling NPP, Elvis Figo A. Awonekai, traced the contract history and exposed what he termed hypocrisy’ being exhibited by the former president.
“The 116km road contract was awarded on 7th December 2016, elections day. Interestingly, Mr. John Dramani Mahama during his ‘accounting to the people’ tour, had cut the sod, at Lamboya near Zebilla, for the construction of the same road on Monday, 11th July, 2016, where he landed with a helicopter in a Hollywood style for the sod cutting.
“The sod cutting was to enable him come to the Upper East Region because he had given assurance to the chiefs and people of Bawku while speaking at the 27th annual SAMANPIID Festival celebrated by the Kusuag people in the Bawku municipality.”
Mode Of Payment
According to the NPP deputy regional secretary, “Payment certificates as contained in the contract are to be paid from the Road Fund,” adding, “This is not the right source for funding the contract.”
He pointed out, “The magnitude of the contract (over $600 million) requires that payment be effected directly from the budget and not from the Road Fund. The Road Fund was established for the preservation of Ghana’s road network and not for the payments of big constructions such as this.
“The road is 116km long; 13km out of this has been awarded to a Ghanaian contractor, MAWUMS Constructions Ltd, as a special contract. The remaining 103 has been awarded to a Brazilian contractor, Queiroz Galvao. The reason for awarding such a special contract to MAWUMS Constructions Ltd is still questionable.”
The NPP Secretary also said that the processes leading to the award of the contract for the construction of the Bolgatanga-Bawku Road were not transparent and even called on the Special Prosecutor, Martin A.B.K. Amidu – who hails from the area – to look into the issue.
Last September, Deputy Minister of Roads and Transport, Anthony A. Karbo, threw a bombshell on Citi FM in Accra when he said the Road Fund had been ‘hijacked’ by UBA following GH¢1.5bn loaned to the previous government under Mr. Mahama to pay road contractors.
“Last year (2016), the fund committed itself to a UBA loan of over GH¢1.5 billion to pay contractors.”
Mr. Karbo lamented, “Our hands are tied. We are in a very difficult situation. My ministers have had sleepless nights and we all use the road on a daily basis.”