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Minister-designate for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Atta has warned if the government does not introduce more innovative ways to generate enough revenue to offset its huge debt and to finance ongoing road projects, there will be crisis in the road sector.
The sector, he revealed, was left with GH?20billion debt as at December 31, 2016 by the previous NDC-led government.
Out of this debt, GH?17billion cuts across all the three agencies under the Ministry – thus the Ghana Highways Authority, Urban Roads and Feeder Roads with the remaining GH?3billion being outstanding amount due road contractors in the cocoa sector.
Mr. Amoako-Atta made this disclosure, Wednesday, when he took his turn at the Appointments Committee of Parliament for questioning over issues related to the ministry has been designated to by the President of the land, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
His response was in connection to a question posed by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, who wanted to know the true state of affairs of the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
The Minister-designate commenting further described the situation as frightening, noting that the Road Fund which is used to finance infrastructure projects in the road sector rakes in only GH?1.2billion per annum.
“Mr. Chairman, it is quite frightening and there is a huge funding gap and the true state of affairs is that awards were made without proper reference to expected inflows to finance those projects,” he noted.
He added “We have almost 900 million certificates raised and ready resting and gathering dust at the Ministry of Finance unpaid.”
He further told the Committee that there are 1,282 ongoing road projects nationwide with 87 bridges but warned that funding is going to be a problem.
“It is going to be dangerous and the current government will have to adopt a lot of innovative ways in dealing with that problem,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Hon. Kwasi Amoako Atta has said government is likely to automate the road toll system to increase inflow into the road fund, Minister-designate for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako Atta has disclosed.
Even though, the Road toll is the second highest contributor to the Fund, after Fuel levies, stakeholders argue the road toll contribution into the fund is low describing the current charges as inadequate.
A chunk of maintenance works that the local contractors embark on are paid with the road fund, however such payments to contractors delay because of low inflows.
The nominee for Roads and Highways noted that four out of the 35 toll booths nationwide are automated now, affecting efficiency of collection nationwide.
“We’ll automate as many of them as possible. Only four are automated and the four are the ones giving us maximum collection,” he stated.
He added:”Automation is the way to go to improve revenue from the toll booths, hence should I be given the opportunity and I get to the Ministry, I’ll sit down with the technical people and consider those ones that will qualify for automation.”
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