The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, headed by Professor John Evans Atta Mills, have once again, engaged in a war of attrition over the execution of development projects in the country.
Two months ago, the Ministry of Information compiled what it claimed were the top 50 achievements of the government so far, in a book entitled ‘Better Ghana Agenda’, but the NPP came out to condemn it, claiming that most of the projects recorded in the book were initiated by the Kufuor administration, and that the current administration cannot claim credit for them.
The then opposition NDC also made similar claims after the construction of the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange in Accra and the Asafo Interchange in Kumasi.
The NDC insisted that funds were secured by the Rawlings government for the two mega projects before it left power in 2000, but accused the NPP of failing to give them credit.
On Tuesday, January 25, this year, the Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, cut the sod for the construction of the Assin Praso to Bekwai stretch of the Cape Coast-Kumasi highway.
The project, which is being financed with a Japanese grant of $100 million, also involves the construction of two steel bridges over River Pra, to link Adansi Praso and Assin Praso.
The NPP is, however, insisting that finance for the project was secured by the Kufuor government, and that the Atta Mills administration cannot be credited for it.
A statement issued by the Central Regional Communications Director of the NPP, Richard Takyi-Mensah, reads: “It is important that we bring to the attention of the general public that the Assin Praso –Asante Bekwai road project, which the Vice President, John Mahama, cut the sod for its construction on Tuesday, 25th January, 2011 at Assin Praso in the Central Region, is an initiative of former President Kufuor and the then NPP government, and not that of this current Mills-Mahama government.
On the 27th of May, 2008, former President Kufuor secured a Japanese grant of $85 million for the construction of the Assin Praso-Bekwai asphalt road, which included the reconstruction of the bridge on the River Pra, and a new market at Assin Praso.
Additionally, the Japanese government expressed its readiness to make available further financial assistance in the form of concessionary loans that might be needed to enable the entire stretch to be completed.
This grant was secured following bilateral talks held between President John Agyekum Kufuor and Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Yasuo Fukuda at the Intercontinental Hotel in the port city of Yokohama, ahead of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV).
The design of the road with that of the bridge were all done under President Kufuor with Dr. Richard Anane as the Minister of Roads and Transport at the time.
The bridge, which was constructed in the 1930s, was designed under this new project to have an asphalt dual carriage road.
The new figure of $100 million for the project came about as a result of the re-evaluation of the work done by the Japanese government.
We thought their ‘action year’ declaration meant a year of new initiatives, which will see massive development in infrastructure, but not cutting sod for NPP projects, which funding has already been sought for,” the NPP noted in the statement.
When this reporter contacted the Minister for Roads and Highways, Mr. Joe Gidisu, on phone on Saturday evening, he expressed surprise over the turn of events, insisting that the finance for the project was signed with the Japanese government sometime last year.
He then directed this reporter to contact the Japanese Embassy in Accra for details of the claim he was making.
According to the Minister, he was out of Accra, and would be back, probably by Tuesday, when he could give detailed accounts on how the funds were secured.
The Japanese Embassy in Accra does not operate during weekends therefore The Chronicle was unable to verify the claim before this publication.
However, when this reporter visited the official website of the Japanese government, to investigate the claim made by Joe Gidisu that the funds were secured last year, and that of the NPP, through their Central Regional Communication Director, that the grant for the project was secured in 2008, there were no records of the claims made by both parties.
The only information concerning Ghana on the website was the official statement issued by the government of Japan concerning the 2008 elections. Several projects involving the funding for road projects in Palestine, Azerbaijan, Zambia, and Philippines among others have been recorded on the website.
The Chronicle is still investigating, and would come out with who is really telling the truth at the appropriate time.
Source Ghanaian Chronicle