In spite of the huge amounts expended in the road sector, the country’s road network has seen very little improvement under the NDC-led government, the Minority Caucus in Parliament has said.
According to the Minority, the NDC government had since 2009, injected a colossal amount of GH¢4.7 billion into the road sector but had very little to show.
Speaking at a press conference in Parliament yesterday, the Minority Spokeman on Roads and Transport, Kofi Owusu Aduomi, said the nation’s road network had deteriorated as a result of poor, inadequate and untimely maintenance interventions.
“The almost eight years of the NDC-led government could not improve the surface condition of the road network, in spite of the huge amounts expended. Instead, the road surface conditions have become worse than they were at January 2009,” he said.
Mr. Aduomi said about 42 per cent of the country’s road network was in good condition before the NDC took over in 2009, but as at December last year, the figure had dropped to 35 per cent.
“Indeed, the performance of the Mills-Mahama administration on the road sector from January 2009 to date is bizarre and catastrophic, to say the least, and that is in spite of the cacophony from propagandists.
“The nation’s road network stood at 37,321 kilometres at the end of fiscal year 2000. It increased to 56,057 kilometre at the end of 2004, moved further up to 67,291 kilometres at the close of year 2008. It had since then increased slightly to 71,419 km at the end of 2015,” he said.
Mr. Aduomi indicated that the nation’s road network increased by 18,736 kilometres and 29,970 km during the four and eight years respectively of the NPP administration, and added that at the end of year 2008, the road network size the Kufuor-led government met as at the end of December 2000 had been increased by about 80 per cent.
As a result, he said many communities, especially commercial crop and food growing areas opened up.
Mr. Aduomi noted that the Department of Feeder Roads’ network increased by 18,195 km under his party’s leadership and facilitated increased production of commercial crops for export and food for domestic consumption.
“The network, since the exit of the NPP-led administration, that is, seven years on, has increased by only 4,128 km as at the end of December 2015 fiscal year. Many cocoa, coffee and food growing areas remain inaccessible by road. It is sad to note that the network of feeder roads that have been structured to serve the hinterlands remain unchanged since the end of 2008,” he said.
Touching on road maintenance, he said the nation’s road network had suffered the worst maintenance in the history of the country since the NDC-led administration took over in January 2009.
Maintenance of roads, he said, had been persistently poor and erratic and had been relegated to the background, resulting in the rapid deterioration of roads.
“Road surface defects such as potholes, high shoulder build-ups, severe corrugation, deep gullies, slippery gravel surfaces, soft spots and bushy roadside vegetation among others, are still predominant on our roads.
“Gravel roads are left many years without grading and sectional patching to improve their surface condition. On paved roads, potholes are left many months without patching to the extent that some widen and deepen to sizes described as “manholes”. The neglect has been such that today the many potholes that have developed on the reinforced concrete-surfaced Accra-Tema motorway have become veritable death traps,” he said.
Roads selected for either major upgrading or rehabilitation to bituminous surfacing and others for expansion by re-construction to accommodate increased vehicular traffic volumes and reduce traffic congestions had progressed at an unacceptably slow pace since January, 2009, he said and added that the desired levels of service those roads were expected to provide for the growth of the nation’s economy and reduction of poverty had not been achieved.
Mr. Aduomi urged the government to concentrate on the completion of the numerous road and bridge projects ongoing by appropriately limiting award of new ones.
He also advised the government to wean itself from its love for sole sourcing and restricted tendering methods of procurement and allow for open competitive tendering on at least 80 per cent of all projects.
He entreated the government to, as quickly as practicable, release to the Road Fund, all outstanding amounts due the fund and source for additional funds to pay all outstanding bills due contractors to minimise payments of interests compounded monthly on invoices delayed beyond the contractual payment period.
“These would enable progress of projects at various sites to speed up so that completion periods do not move far beyond contractual completion dates and reduce huge amounts paid on contractors’ invoices as fluctuation.
“Finally, the government ought to take note that road development should be in tandem with its maintenance,” he said.
By Yaw Kyei