The Roads and Highway Minister, Kwasi Amoako-Atta, Wednesday clashed with the Minority in Parliament over the quantum of debt bequeathed his Ministry by the Mahama Administration.
Contributing to the debate on the President's State of the Nation Address, Amoako-Atta disclosed that the Mahama administration left GH¢17.8 billion in commitments before exiting power.
That, among other arrears, he said has made it difficult for new projects to be commenced even though about 61% of the country's roads are in bad shape.
“…And what is even more serious is that, if we come to consider the conditions of our roads, only 39% out of these total kilometrage of almost 73,000 of roads is considered to be good, 32% is considered to be fair and 29% is considered to be poor and if you put the fair and poor together which constitute the undesirable misfortune on our roads, that amounts to 61%,” he told Parliament.
He said the government took over the administration of the country from the erstwhile Mahama administration at a time the country was experiencing “massive deterioration” of roads across the nation; “from North to South, and from East to West.”
“And a number of time, even my colleagues from this august house on both side of the divide hold conversations with me to attend to their roads testify to the poor nature of roads handed over to his Excellency's administration in 2017. And above all, the government took over a huge debt overhang in the road sector.
“Mr. Speaker, as at January 2017 the government of Ghana was owing contractors from BoG office at the Ministry of Finance GH¢1.1billion. As at first January 2017 Ghana was owing contractors in the road fund sector GH¢506million. As at first January 2017, Mr. Speaker cost-to-compete amounted to GH¢12.8billion and as if that was not enough, Mr. Speaker, as at first January 2017, the total commitments at the road sector amounted to GH¢17.8billion,” he said.
That notwithstanding, he said the Akufo-Addo government is resolved to fixing the country's road challenge.
Quoting portions of President Akufo-Addo's state of the nation's address, Amoako-Atta said: “We are determined to bring our road networks to a befitting status and this year we shall witness much more activities on the roads.”
The figures from the minister were however, disputed by the Minority spokesperson on roads Kwame Agbodza, wondering why commitments had become debts.
According to him, the GH¢17.8billion the Minister alluded to was not a demand from any contractor for the government to pay.
“So, it is just like saying we needed to build 1000 schools, then you force the schools and say that is the commitment you are being asked to pay,” he queried.