Joe Gidisu, Minister of Roads and Highways’ dream of riding a $166,000 state-of-the-art BMW 7 series, 2010 model car, a ‘token’ from a Chinese contractor, has been dashed as President Atta Mills has ordered the seizure of the vehicle.
Upon hearing about the delivery to the Minister, President Mills ordered the seizure of the car, leaving the soft-spoken minister devastated over the loss.
Mr Gidisu said the vehicle was only for official assignments and when he realized that it was more than what he needed, he informed the president about it, raising questions about the reasonability of informing the president about a transaction of an agency under his ministry.
The ministry, in a correspondence, created the impression that he had rejected the said car on account of its ostentations features and to address the moral challenge posed by the transaction.
This has raised eyebrows regarding the sincerity of the minister even within NDC circles, as it appears to have failed in its mission.
Supervising one of the richest state departments, the Ministry for Roads and Highway, Joe Gidisu, MP for Central Tongu, allegedly exploited a government directive that ministers be furnished with cars by the agencies they head, to demand the top-of-the-range automobile through one of the agencies under his sector.
“Subsequent to the decision for the ministries to provide for the use of their ministers, the Ghana Highways Authority (GHA) was requested to arrange and purchase a saloon car for one of their ongoing road construction projects” is part of the contents of a correspondence dated 2nd August 2011 emanating from the desk of the minister.
Another portion of the same correspondence reads, “The Ghana Highways Authority by a letter dated 19th May 2010 requested the Resident Engineer on the Achimota-Ofankor road project to arrange for the purchase. However, I found the type of vehicle purchased not very appropriate for my use.”
Tongues are already wagging about the now glaring incidence of contractors of major contracts in especially the road sector allegedly compromising ministers and others whose influence matters in securing such mouth-watering jobs.
More worrying is the fact the contract in question is one of those whose slow pace execution remains an issue of public scrutiny since the inception of the Mills administration.
Recently, after initial complaints that there was no money to complete the Achimota-Ofankor road, Mills ordered the release of cash to the contractor to resume work at the site.
It is suggested that someone whispered into the ears of the president who subsequently sought to see the car before ordering its seizure. President Mills is said to have expressed disappointment in the conduct and expensive taste of his subordinate for the German car imported by Mechanical Lloyd, representatives of BMW in the country.
The Chinese company which succumbed to the request of the minister is in charge of the project mentioned.
At a cost of $166,978.47, the comprehensive insurance cover for the car stands at $6,672.47, according to earlier media reports.
The details of the car, which was moved away to the Castle by National security operatives, are: Chassis number WBAKB41070C633051 with a base price of $139,396.31, VAT $17,424.54, NHIL $3484.91 with a total invoice value of $160,305.76.
In an attempt to present the version of his boss, a certain Samuel Kofi Agbenyo, a research assistant to the minister, disclosed that Hon. Gidisu, upon assuming office as a minister, was given a Toyota Landcruiser V8 with registration number GT 1905-09.
That, he said, developed a fault and it was replaced with another with number GT 642-10, which he claimed he shared with directors at the ministry.
The controversial BMW, he said, was acquired as a standby car to serve his country-wide trips and for the fact that he is always in the company of the President.
“About the said BMW, what actually transpired is that the ministry, at a management meeting, decided to purchase another duty car for the minister as a standby duty car to augment the other one as a result of the fact that the minister is always on the go across the country inspecting, cutting sod, commissioning projects. Also, as all readers may have observed, the minister is one of the ministers who is always with the president anytime he is on tour of the country, thus, he needed a standby car that he could quickly use when the other one develops a fault.
“The minister was amazed when he was shown a BMW saloon car that was purchased for him. He said it plainly in a letter that the car was too expensive and too luxurious for his use and said he was not going to use it and has never used it. He quickly reported this case to the president and Castle has given him a new car,” Agbenyo said in a statement posted on the internet.
The car was never received by him, let alone driven to his residence as being mentioned by a section of the media, Mr Agbenyo stated.
When reached yesterday for further comments, Agbenyo referred DAILY GUIDE to the ministry, saying that all the documents were there to be seen.
Asked why the minister reported the car deal to the president if, indeed, it was bought by an agency under his ministry, and not return it to the agency, Agbenyo could not provide any answer, saying Mr Gidisu would be in a position to do that.
When Mr Gidisu was reached on the phone, he said he was not ready to talk but rather wanted a one-on-one interview to be supported with documentary evidence.
Source Daily Guide