To be able to execute the declaration of 2020 as the ‘Year of Roads’ by the Finance Minister, the Ministry of Roads and Highways has bagged GHC2,275,325,663 for its programmes and activities for the year ending December 31, 2020.
Of the amount, GHC1,393,735,839 would be pumped into the construction of roads and bridges with the rest expected to go into road rehabilitation, road safety and environment and management and administration.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, presenting the 2020 budget in Parliament last month declared 2020 as the Year of Roads adding that the general demand of Ghanaians was roads.
“Today the cry everywhere in Ghana is about the poor state of our roads. It is an unprecedented cry and it makes you wonder where all the roads in the NDC’s Green Book are.
“Mr Speaker, this is why we are going to focus more on fixing our roads across the country in 2020 and beyond. To get the road sector moving and contractors back to work, government will pay 80 per cent of all contractors.
“Mr Speaker, Ghanaians want action on our roads, not words or plans or Green Book claims about what has been done. We intend to swing into action and let our work do the talking for us,” he told the House.
In fulfillment of that pledge, Parliament yesterday approved the budget estimate of the Ministry, giving it the power to expend the amount pending the passage of the Appropriation Act for the 2020 financial year.
The Ministry in 2019 received only GHC459, 166,433 of its GHC1, 417,261,742 budgetary allocation, representing 32.3 per cent as at September 2019.
Moving the motion for the approval, sector Minister, Kwesi Amoako-Atta, said the political fortunes of the Members of Parliament were tied to how well his outfit does in the year as the demands for roads keep increasing by the day.
To achieve the ‘Year of roads’ initiative, Mr Amoako-Atta said considering the quantum of arears owed contractors, “government is looking at innovative ways of financing road infrastructure,” including private sector participation and build, own, operate and transfer.
Supporting the motion, Ranking Member on the Committee, Kwame Agbodza, MP, Adaklu, urged the government to exempt the Ghana Road Fund from its capping policy to allow the fund raise the needed money to support road infrastructure in the country.
He said since coming into office, the government had taken GHC2.2 billion from the fund, an amount he said could have done a lot in the road sector.
But Mr Amoako-Atta said the Road Fund was in the position to support the sector because all debt it owed had been cleared.
He said the US$2 billion Sinohydro facility secured from the Chinese firm in exchange for bauxite worth the amount was in full motion.
According to him, 62 projects under the Sinohydro arrangement were to be rolled out next year.
He assured that government was committed to fixing the roads across the country and would leave no stone unturned to achieve the targets in 2020.
The House, meanwhile, approved a GHC402 million budget for the Ministry of Transport and GHC189 million for the Aviation Ministry for their activities next year.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI