They have given the government up to the end of May to make good their ultimatum.
A spokesperson for the over 300 aggrieved contractors, Grace Tanimu of Hartbarak Enterprise based in the Upper East Region, told The Ghanaian Times yesterday that the government owed them close to GH¢380) million ($100 million for cocoa road projects undertaken since 2011.
“We have exhausted all channels of communication to press our demand for payment but all seemed to have fallen through and it is sad that we would have to resort to court action to get our monies,” he said.
According to the spokesperson, some of their members have fallen ‘terminally’ ill as a result of the present situation.
“We secured bank loans at exorbitant interests for the project and now we are being chased to pay up or face court action,” he said.
When contacted on Tuesday, the Director of the Department of Feeder Roads, George Aidoo, confirmed the story and indicated that steps are being taken to get the issue addressed.
One of the major concerns of the contractors was that, whilst their monies remained unpaid, the government has awarded a new deal to a different group of contractors who are alleged to have been given an advance payment.
The Feeder Roads Director however rejects the claim saying no such thing had been done.
Throwing more light on the issue, the Public Affairs Manager of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Noah Amenya, told The Ghanaian Times that hitherto his outfit supported financially in the construction of roads to cocoa-growing areas – monies it paid through the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
However, per the present arrangement, COCOBOD now engages the contractors directly with expert technical advice from the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
According to Mr. Amenya, a sod is yet to be cut for the new programme to roll out, adding that “as far as I’m concerned now COCOBOD does not owe any road contractors”.
Asked what prompted the current arrangement where COCOBOD now engages the contractors directly, he said COCOBOD wanted to address the critical concerns of cocoa farmers pertaining to the poor nature of their roads and managed to get government’s backing in that direction.
Under the law, contractors are to be paid within 91 days of submission of their completed project letter to the government.
By John Vigah