ENGINEERS and Planners (E&P), the construction firm, owned by Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, has concluded its desilting operations in the Odaw River in Accra.
It has also handed over all the equipment it took from the government for the project, which it undertook free of charge.
Although it desilted three kilometers, representing about 40 per cent of the choked drain, the company believed it was time to pull out.
“I am pulling out not because I want to, but I believe we have done most of the work and others can also continue,” Mr. Mahama, Chief Executive Officer of E&P, who is also the brother of Presidents Mahama told journalists at the site on Saturday.
Asked whether the withdrawal was due to the criticism and politicization of his involvement in the project, he described the criticisms and politicization as “very unnecessary and discouraging” for such voluntary work, but said the company was pulling out because it needed to concentrate on its core business.
The choked Odaw drain was found to have contributed largely to the flooding of parts of Accra, particularly the Kwame Nkrumah Circle area where the flood led to the explosion at a filling station, killing 159 people, on June 3.
Following the incident, Mr. Mahama volunteered to desilt the drain for free, but as the desilting progressed, members of the opposition New Patriotic Party and the Minority in Parliament questioned the appropriateness of E&P’s involvement in the project, amidst suspicion of underhand dealings.
Among other things, the critics questioned why the President’s younger brother had been allowed to use state equipment to execute a private contract.
But Mr. Mahama maintained it did not undertake the project as a contract, saying is was an agreement with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, to undertake the desilting for free as part of the agreement, the ministry provided fuel and equipment, including tipper trucks and excavators, while E&P provided and paid personnel and desilting experts.
Asked how much he spent on the project, Mr. Mahama told journalists during his inspection of the desilted stretch, that it would have cost the government about 15 million dollars if the project had been undertaken as a contract.
“I have no regrets doing this. I did this just to show that Ghanaians are capable.
“We planned to operate here for a month, but we spent nearly four months on the project, and I think we have done our best,” he stressed.
According to him, the company had desilted the most difficult part of the drain, explaining that any contractor to whom the job would be awarded to would have it easy.
“What remains is to put a dredger in the silted areas and pipe out the soil,” he stated.
From the Odaw drain site, Mr. Mahama moved to the Government Machinery Safe House at Tema, where he returned assorted earth-moving equipment used for the project, to the government.
The equipment consists of 20 tipper trucks, four bulldozers, three excavators, three wheel-loaders and two motor graders.
Mr. Mahama said the company would be focusing on a number of major contracts in the mining sector, adding that he only deployed his personnel to help the government to desilt the Odaw, as the company was awaiting those new contracts.
He expressed concern about the politicization of the project, saying such practice would continue to destroy the self-help spirit of well meaning Ghanaians.
“We can solve our problems if we reduce the politics and the suspicions and bring our resources together to address challenges that affect all of us,” he said.
“I didn’t volunteer to undertake the project for free because the President is my brother. I did it because I felt I needed to help my country,” he said.
He, therefore, urged his critics and others which similar resources to support nation building, saying the country would not progress “if we continue with this pettiness”.
By Edmund Mingle