Ghana government defends increase in road tolls

Government has explained that it has been compelled to institute the new road tolls because the Road Fund has been over-committed and unable to fulfil its obligations.

It said the new tolls would, therefore, yield the needed revenue to enable the government to undertake sustainable maintenance of the road network in the country.

A Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Alex Segbefia, said this in Accra, at the inauguration of a 14-member Road Fund Management Board, which has Mr Joe Gidisu, the Minister of Roads and Highways, as Chairman.

Other members include Hajia Fati Addy, Alhaji E. A. Tetteh, Prof. Mohammed Salifu, Mr Napoleon Azumah, Mr Rapheal Kwasi Tuffour, Nana Yeboa Kodie Asare and Mr Amin Abdul-Rahman. The rest are Mr Yao Asamoah-Aning, Mr James K. Glover, Mr J. Twumasi-Mensah, Mr Francis Foli-Mawusi Gbeddy and Mr A. T. Essilfie.

He said in recent times the fund could only meet 55 per cent of the maintenance needs of the road agencies every year and that had largely been attributed to the many reconstruction projects charged to the fund, even though the act required that priority be given to routine and periodic maintenance.

Mr Segbefia said the accumulated shortfall in the maintenance needs of the network over the period had resulted in the present state of affairs on the country’s road network.

He asserted that as of the end of the 2007/2008 fiscal year, the Road Fund was indebted to its contractors to the tune of GH¢84 million and the government had to contract a loan of $85 million from SSNIT to make good the indebtedness of the fund to the contractors.

He attributed the poor financial performance of the fund to the imprudent manner in which it was managed by successive boards, resulting in the current debt of GH¢120 million owed to contractors.

He said sources of revenue for the fund were limited to the levy on petrol and diesel, bridge, ferry and road tolls, vehicle licensing and inspection fees, among others, adding that for effective and efficient maintenance of roads, there was the need to increase some of the fees and levies.

Mr Segbefia, therefore, appealed to road users, especially transporters, to co-operate with the board in the payment of the new rates, as they would go a long way to improve the driving quality of the roads and thereby reduce the cost of maintenance and operation of their vehicles.

Mr Gidisu pledged the board’s commitment to the general public on the efficient management of the fund for the intended purpose and thanked the President for the confidence reposed in them.

Source: Daily Graphic

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