Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press. I am singularly honoured to on behalf of the Bono Regional branch of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), welcome you all to today’s press conference.
This event has been necessitated by the recent statements we’ve all heard from the former President, John Dramani Mahama who is on a campaign tour of the nation. Indeed, we welcome engagements between the political class and ordinary Ghanaians. Such engagements are not new, and they generally improve our democracy.
Having said this, it is imperative that when under the guise of such engagements, political figures take to scoring cheap political points through falsehoods, and fabricated claims which bear no resemblance to well-documented facts, we must call them out for their worrying actions.
Instead of admitting to his failure to fulfil the promises he made to cocoa farmers and cocoa farming communities during his presidency; the mismanagement and misapplication of funds which he oversaw and his government’s lack of innovative capacity to resolve the issues of the cocoa sector, the former president is rather engaging in a “Trumpian” style spreading of misinformation.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, I am sad to announce that former President John Dramani Mahama has been reduced to a trafficker of misinformation. This is particularly true of the statements he has made about the construction of cocoa roads and on which bases he has launched several attacks on the current government.
He has clearly decided to launch these attacks at any opportunity he gets to address the chiefs and good people of the cocoa regions. It has, therefore, become imperative for me as chairman of the NPP in a cocoa region, to address the press and set the records straight. As such, aided by facts and figures I will give you a true account of what happened at the time of his government and what is happening now, as far as cocoa roads are concerned.
The Case for Suspension
I’ll begin by stating the historical fact that the cocoa roads initiative is a proudly New Patriotic Party (NPP) initiative. It was first introduced by the government of President John Agyekum Kufuor and evolved over the years to what it is presently. It is an initiative we are proud of as a party and one which will continue as long as the NPP is in power.
So, one will ask the question, what then will force an NPP government to suspend cocoa road projects? Ladies and Gentlemen, the answer is not that this government is opposed to cocoa roads, as the purveyors of misinformation will have you believe, but it was due to the need to conduct a clinical audit of the contracts which were awarded under the John Mahama government after several anomalies were found and to allow for the re-scoping and proper alignment of funds to execute the projects.
It is improper for any government or head of a state institution to commit to contracts on behalf of Ghanaians without the proper cost assessment and the provisioning of a means to funding to pay for the projects. Yet, this is exactly what the Mahama government did. Cocoa road contracts were awarded to the tune of over GH₵ 5.1billion when available funds for payment of the contracts was only GH₵ 1.7billion and no arrangements had been made to source extra funding.
For many of these contracts, the exact cost was impossible to determine. The standard practice of conducting proper appraisals and costing, with 10 percent provisions for variations had not been undertaken in many cases. Consequently, and not surprisingly, the construction cost of these roads kept rising and rising. Is it not proper to label road contracts which have been found to have cost Ghanaians an upward of 80 percent more than what are their standard costs, as inflated contracts?
Any government which cares about the prudent management of public funds will be troubled by this situation. As such, it was important to carefully interrogate the matter and separate out good contracts with genuine claims from bad ones. The recklessness of the previous government could not be allowed to continue.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is important to bear in mind that these contracts were awarded through sole-sourcing and mostly went to members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), family and cronies of the former president. Also, the absence of funds for the contracts as I have mentioned above have resulted in delayed payments to some contractors and ensuant increases in project costs to the tune of some GH₵ 200million.
The Present and Future of Cocoa Roads
We are all aware that the suspension has long been lifted. Some 24 contractors have had their contracts terminated for non-performance while others have been given the go-ahead to continue their construction of road projects that were awarded to them by the previous government. These contracts have been assessed and limits duly placed on the expenditures involved.
It is false that contractors with genuine claims about their contracts issued by the previous government are not being paid. GH₵9,603,917.55 was paid to cocoa road contractors during the 2016/2017 cocoa season. GH₵496,872,500.00 was then paid during the 2017/2018 cocoa season. During the 2018/2019 season, the amount went up to GH₵550,983,450.00 million and so far in the present 2019/2020 season, the figure stands at GH₵123,639,516 million. This brings the total amount paid by this government for cocoa road contracts issued by the previous government to well over a billion Ghana cedis; the exact figure being GH₵1,181,099,383.55.
Ladies and Gentlemen let no one be deceived by the claim of former President John Mahama and NDC communicators that the present government stopped absolutely all cocoa road projects started by the previous government. This is another blatant falsehood. The suspension which was imposed was not a blanket suspension on all the contracts, as such, several roads at different stages of construction were allowed to continue until completion in 2017 and thereafter.
I would like to share the names of some of these roads with you:
Asutiano – Dormaa Akuamu – Akontanim road (10.7 km)
Asumura – Tipokrom road (4.9 km)
Kyeremasu – Akontanim road
Atebubu – Kwame Danso – Kojokrom road
Mim – Fetegya and Ahmadiya Hospital road
Pokukrom – Ahwerewa Bronum road (15.9 km)
Fiankuma – Hia road (14.5 km)
Kokofo – Asaman – Asaas road
Subriso Junction. – Subriso road
Ntoroku Junction – Ntoroku road
Safokrom – Daaban road
Manfo – Subriso – Nfanti
Bekwai – Adankragya road (14.7 km)
Kumawu – Timaate – Drobonso Town road
Offinso Town Roads
Partial Reconstruction of Internal Roads at Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana.
Bitumen Surfacing of Akoase – Akadewaso road (9.5km)
Upgrading of Nsawam -Aburi Road (6.6 km) and Other – Total length = 14.9km
Upgrading of Kete Krachi – Buya (km 10 – 30km)
In addition to the above, I also have a list of some cocoa roads upon which work have resumed and progressed steadily after the suspension.
Upgrading of Adwofua – Oseikojokrom road (0 – 16km)
Upgrading of Akontombra – Sefwi Wiawso road
Rehabilitation of Prestea – Samreboi road
Rehabilitation of Buako – Sankore road
Upgrading of Duakwa – Mankrong Junction road
Partial Reconstruction of Cape Coast – Twifo Praso road
Reconstruction of Apam – Ankamu – Agona Swedru road
Bitumen Surfacing of Anyinase – Kwesikrom (4 – 27km)
Bitumen Surfacing of Tikobo No. 1 – Ellanda Wharf
Partial Reconstruction of Kade Town Roads (5km)
Rehabilitation of Akoase Kyenkyenku Abokyikrom – Pra River road (14.4km)
Bitumen Surfacing of Bodada – Kute – Dzolu road (27.5km)
Bitumen Surfacing of Anfoega Akukorme Wadamaxe Aveti road (8.6km)
Reconstruction of Hohoe – Jasikan (2 – 32km)
Construction of Kete Krachi – Buya (km 30 – 56.9km)
Upgrading of Borae Junction – Dadiokorpe road (11.05 – 28.05km)
Partial Reconstruction of Asamankese – Osenase Akwatia road (0 – 12km)
Partial Reconstruction of Suhum – Asamankese (0 – 10km)
Partial Reconstruction of Koforidua – Bunso (20km)
Partial Reconstruction of Nsawam – Aburi (0 – 15.1km)
Partial Reconstruction of Adoagyiri – Adeiso road (15.2km) and Adeiso road (5.1km) and Access Road to COCOBOD Warehouse at Nsawam (0.74km) – Total length = (21.04km)
Ladies and Gentlemen, the above-listed roads, and others like them, were awarded for contracts by the John Mahama led NDC government and continued in the time of the present government.
In addition, this government has awarded 43 new cocoa road contracts and is scheduled to add more. For the very first time, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) used an open competitive bidding process to choose suitable contractors to award the contracts to. This open approach to the award of cocoa road contracts has introduced transparency to a process, hitherto, characterised by the sort of “cloak and dagger” which provide the perfect opportunity for the contracts to be awarded to NDC party member and well as friends, family and cronies of John Mahama.
It is clear to us that, the lamentations of the former president are not as a result of a selfless desire to see the right things done, in so far as the award of cocoa road contracts are concerned. No, far be it that he would want that.
They are, instead, the lamentations of man whose schemes which were to ensure large cash flows to friends, family and cronies have been frustrated by the Nana Akufo Addo government, and in particular, by the patriotic men and women he appointed to be at the helm of the affairs of Ghana’s cocoa authority, to steer things right in the interest of Ghanaians
Regrettably, we do not expect the lamentations of the former president to cease as he tours the country. We have no hope that he will refrain from his misinformation campaign and so we address our appeal to the chiefs and people of Ghana to not join the former president’s bandwagon. We ask that they take note of the facts herein provided and be mindful of the chain of events leading to the present state of cocoa roads, so they will not be swayed by political gimmickry.