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Govt sets up committee to raise funds to pay arrears owed contractors

A Special Committee has been constituted by the President to work assiduously towards raising the required funds to pay arrears owed contractors. 

It is made up of the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Ministers of Finance and Road and Highways, Ken Ofori-Atta and Kwasi Amoako-Atta respectively.

The committee is expected to submit its recommendations to resolve the issues about settlement of arrears by the end of July.

This was contained in a statement issued by the Ministry of Road and Highways in Accra yesterday, following a meeting between the Minister and executives of contractor associations to discuss issues related to outstanding payment to contractors.

The meeting brought together Executives of the Ghana Chamber of Construction Industry, Progressive Road Contractors Association, Association of Road Contractors, Board Chairman of the Ghana Road Fund Board and Heads of Agencies of the Ministry.

At the meeting, the statement noted that, the contractor associations, led by Emmanuel Martey, Chairman, Ghana Chamber of Construction Industry, presented a paper to the Ministry for consideration, which was discussed with recommendations provided.

It said the deliberations would be completed by the end of the month with recommendations for a resolution of the issues.

The Ghanaian Times on July 11 reported that contractors numbering about 100 yesterday besieged the Ministry of Roads and Highways to demand immediate payment for project executed for the government.

Looking angry, the contractors who said they were frustrated for non-payment of government contracts awarded them chanted war songs and called out the Minister, Kwasi Amoako-Atta, severally to respond to their concerns.

Some others, clad in red head bands, accused the minister of “politicking” with the livelihoods of contractors and threatened court action if their demands were not addressed urgently. 

Some personnel of the Ministries Police Station, who had arrived to the scene on time to avert any unforeseen circumstance, preached for calmness while protecting the main entrance of the ministry building.

Majeed Yahaya, one of the contractors told the Ghanaian Times that the group was angry with the government  for delaying payment for contracts which were executed between three and five years ago.   

He explained that the delay in the payment had crippled the operations of some contractors due to huge debts they owe banks and suppliers.

“We have not been paid which means our workers have also not been paid all these years and so it is kind of crippling effect. Some of us have employees more than 10 to 15, others having over 100. There is pressure from our workers and banks and our suppliers. Most of us are in debt ranging from GH¢200,000 to GH¢30 million and above. These are for contracts that we have all executed from asphalts to road maintenance and construction of drains”, he stated.

He said the government’s decision to audit all projects before payment was a ploy to withhold payment due contractors saying that “they wanted to buy time for themselves, there has being no report but we have no problems about an audit.”

Failure on the part of government to expedite payment, Mr Yahaya explained, would see both contractors and their workers troop the ministry to demonstrate.

Another contractor, Abdul Rashid Issah, alleged that the government was selective in paying some contractors and leaving out others because they were perceived to be members of the main opposition, National Democratic Congress (NDC).

He further alleged that some officials of the ministry were demanding a fee before processing payment details of the contractors saying that “some of us have been pushed back because we didn’t agree to the percentage demand from them.”

BY TIMES REPORTER

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