Ministerial nominee for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Attah is worried that road contractors in Ghana do not match up to their counterparts abroad.
He says the situation where locals practice as individuals other than joint contractors will always be disadvantageous to them during international competitive biddings.
For him, the development is responsible for the government’s decision to even award some road constructions in the country to foreign companies because the locals do not have what it takes to executes such projects.
“It is said that if we subject our local contractors to any international competitive bidding, they will fall short. If they continue to operate as individuals, it will be difficult”, Mr. Amoako-Attah said during his vetting in Parliament on Tuesday.
To address this major challenge, the Minister-designate underscored the need for capacity-building for Ghanaian contractors to make them peerless.
“A lot has been done to develop their capacities, but there is one area they are not taking advantage of. Almost all our contractors prefer to remain individual contractors, They do not want to come together and pool resources. That is the only way their capacities will be built quickly because road construction is capital-intensive”, he suggested.
COVID-19 impacted monies owed contractors
Touching on the government’s indebtedness to road contractors, Kwasi Amoako-Attah indicated that the start of the COVID-19 pandemic played a major role in the inability of the ministry to settle the outstanding payments.
Mr. Amoako-Attah said the pandemic put a strain on the country and a large portion of Ghana’s revenue went into trying to manage it.
“There are outstanding payments 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,” he added
He further stated that there have been massive delays in finishing the payments for contractors adding that the ministry has been putting efforts in place to clear such debt.
“I will not sit here and say all contractors in this country have been paid on schedule. Even though the government, in the past four years, has made a great effort to pay all contractors for their good work. It’s not in the interest of the government to delay payments because of the huge interest accrued as a result.”
“Contractors are supposed to be paid within 90 days, and great effort has been made from time to time to get that done. We’ve followed strict payment regimes and have been very fair in paying contractors. We do not discriminate in terms of payment.”