The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, has flayed the Roads and Transport Committee of Parliament for its failure to exercise proper diligence over the Achimota-Ofankor Highway project, contributing to the 217 per cent inflation of the project’s value.
“In fact all of us would have to take the blame; the engineers, those who did not follow procurement procedures and all those who approved of the project,” the Speaker said.
The original value was estimated at GH¢40.4 million, but it was bloated by approximately GH¢88 million, bringing the total cost of the project cost to GH¢128.4 million.
The Speaker, who had days earlier sounded a caution that he would not countenance shoddy work from MPs, also criticized the Ministry of Roads and Highways for making unrelated expenditure in the execution of the project.
A Public Accounts Committee Report on the Performance Audit Report of the Auditor General on the Construction of the Achimota -Ofankor Road, which was presented to Parliament, cited the purchase of a BMW saloon car at $160,305 for the then Minister of Roads and Highways, Joe Gidisu, to use for the inspection of the project.
The vehicle had a comprehensive insurance cover of $6,672.
The Audit, which commenced in June 2012, and was completed in October 2012, covered May 2004 to December 2011.
The New Patriotic Party Administration, in 2006, awarded the contract to the China Railway Group Corporation.
Other unrelated expenses by the Ministry was the payment of GH¢34,764 in allowances for 13 staff of the Ghana Highways Authority (GHA) and the restructuring of the GHA’s archive basement into offices at GH¢50,000.
Others are the renovation of the Deputy CEO’s Office and the training of four staff of the GHA at GIMPA at GH¢33,225; while GH¢11,264 was spent on the participation of four staff in an Urban Transportation Course at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
The Speaker said with such glaring over-expenditure, the Committee of Roads and Transport had failed Parliament and the nation as a whole.
The Speaker rejected the usual argument that the Committee was not well-resourced for its members to effectively tour the project site to enable it to make their requisite recommendations.
He said, that in any way, should not have prevented the Committee from making proper due diligence in the approval of budget estimates, which had a spillover from the preceding year’s estimates.
“You don’t need money to go round to be able to raise the red flag because every year, the Committee recommends for appropriation the budget for the Ministry and that in considering the estimates due diligence could have been done to detect such expenses outside the normal contract,” the Speaker said.
Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, the Majority Chief Whip, said it was time the acquisition of luxurious vehicles to inspect projects was stopped because the nation was facing economic challenges.
He said pick-up vehicles must be acquired by the Government and put in a pool for Ministers to use to inspect various projects instead of buying luxurious vehicles for such inspection anytime a project is being executed.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu, the Minority Leader, had earlier argued that the Executive intentionally was incapacitating Parliament by not providing money for the Committees of Parliament to exercise their oversight responsibility as constitutionally mandated.
The Minority Leader said if the Committee on Roads and Transport had properly been resourced to carry out its oversight role all these wastages would have been avoided.
“It is imperative for the various Committees of Parliament to be given the necessary resources to enable them to discharge their oversight functions,” the Minority Leader, who is also the MP for Suame, in the Ashanti Region, advised.