Minister of Roads and Highways-designate, Kwesi Amoako Atta, has defended government’s decision to award the US$570 million Accra-Tema motorway contract to a sole-sourced construction firm, Mota-Engil Engenharia Construcao Africa S.A.
He said the technical competence and financial viability best places the company to execute the project, which has been on the drawing board for several years.
“This is the recommendation by the technical group majority of which were not from the Roads Ministry. We have gone through a public private partnership process and settled on a proven competent contractor to execute the project,” Mr. Amoako Attah told the Appointments Committee of Parliament, at his vetting in Accra, yesterday.
The project, which was earlier pegged at US$470 million under a public-private partnership agreement, had to be renegotiated for the contractor to solely fund the project.
The Minority in Parliament had called for the cancellation of the project, alleging that it did not receive parliamentary approval and had no local component.
But, Mr. Amoako-Atta said: “Let me put it on record that with the project cost and its complexity, no Ghanaian contractor has the capacity to undertake this project.”
According to him, though sole sourcing normally denied the employer two things: the opportunity to select the best competent person and the opportunity to get value for money, it was at times necessary for efficiency and delivery.
“Technically, sole sourcing is not illegal, provided you do it within the framework of the law,” Amoako Attah stated.
Concerning the dualization of major roads from the country’s capital city, Accra, Mr Amoako Attah, NPP MP for Atiwa West, said work would commence this year, to minimise highway road accidents.
He listed the Accra-Kumasi, Tema Motorway-Akosombo, and Tema-Aflao road as those to be dualised by end of 2023, and said the “President has cut the sod for the first 17km of the Tema-Aflao road beyond the Central University and the contractors have started work.”
Mr. Amoako-Atta said the classification and licencing of contractors would be a major feature on his list of priorities if he was approved, adding “it is creating a problem for the ministry. Your classification determines what kind of work you can do, your efficiency, capacity, equipment level and workload analysis among others”.
He noted that the COVID-19 global pandemic had affected the government’s obligation to settle its indebtedness to contractors.
Mr. Amoako-Atta indicated that “There are outstanding payments [to contractors] and efforts are being made to settle them, as and when monies are released to the ministry. We must not lose track of the difficulties we all went through as a government and a nation with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Resources of the nation, in terms of revenue, went down and that also impacted negatively on our payment regime. We are hoping that this trend will change and contractors will see an improvement in the payment regime.”