General News of Thursday, 11 April 2013
The Ghana Integrity Initiative is asking the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the operations of the Savannah Accelerated Development concerning its guinea fowl project.
The anti-corruption group says it is unhappy with the apparent failures of the project.
The anti-graft body says it prefers CHRAJ probing the issue to a Parliamentary Committee.
Below is the full statement by the Ghana Integrity Initiative
THE SAVANNAH ACCELERATED DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (SADA) MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO FAIL
For some time now, the media has debating some disturbing news about the guinea fowl project that is being sponsored by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA). The media must be commended for its continued efforts to hold public officers accountable and to insist that public resources are utilised effectively and efficiently and to the common good of the citizens. The Chief Executive of the SADA, Alhaji Gilbert Seidu Iddi, in response, indicated that the Authority would hold a press conference to lay bare the facts on how an amount of GH¢15 million has been invested in the guinea fowl project as a part of the SADA project.
Furthermore, Parliament has also indicated that they would bring the Chief Executive before the House to explain why the afforestation project embarked upon by the Authority was not progressing as expected. An NGO called Asongtaba Cottage Industries, owned by Mr Roland Agambire, the CEO of rlg, a mobile manufacturing company, is alleged to have been provided with an amount of GH¢33 million to plant trees in the re-afforestation project. The results of this project, at least in the number of trees planted, are yet to be seen as only 300,000 trees out of a total of a planned 5 million trees, are alleged to have been planted so far in nine months. Parliament is obviously not satisfied with the progress of the project so far. The excuse that the trees were destroyed by bush fires is not convincing because bush fires are a normal feature in Northern Ghana and parts of the Brong Ahafo region. This makes it imperative for SADA to have put in place measures to protect the young trees from these fires. It is constructive to note that the same company is behind these two projects.
Parliament’s decision to invite the Chief Executive of SADA to answer questions is, therefore, welcome news. We expect Parliament to play its oversight role more effectively on a regular basis and save the country from unnecessary waste of public resources and not to wait until the end of the year when the Auditor-General submits his reports to them at the time when it becomes too late to take any corrective and punitive measures. Besides, Parliament’s oversight role should not be limited to the use of financial resources only but include the investigation of any inaction or inappropriate action by public officers appointed to manage state resources
Another SADA project that seems to have stalled is the mango project that has not received the needed media attention. According to our sources of information, the land clearing for a total land area of 500 acres for the four mango farmers, which was supposed to have started in October/November 2012, has up to the time of this statement not commenced. Once the rains start, the bulldozers will not be able to work on the land as they will get stuck in the muddy terrain. A similar delay in 2011 led to the failure of the project to take off when the tractors came late.
Moreover, the 200 boreholes, which were supposed to be drilled in the four mango project sites at about GH¢20,000 each, have still not been drilled. The contractor that was awarded the contract to drill the boreholes has since retreated that he can only drill 70 boreholes for the project sites with the amount of money provided. This raises eye brows concerning the transparency and appropriateness surrounding the award of the contract.
The seemingly and apparent failures of the SADA project are worrying as the SADA seems to be going in the same direction as similar projects that were initiated for the people of the North in the past. GII calls on Parliament to go beyond merely calling on the Chief Executive to answer questions in the comfort of the Parliament House and invoke Article 278 of the Constitution and, by a resolution, request that a commission of inquiry be appointed to inquire into the issues emerging from the entire SADA projects as they are matters of public importance.
Alternatively, an independent investigator such as the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) should undertake this investigation as GII cannot rule out political interests in all these allegations. Such an investigation would also ensure public confidence in the outcomes of the investigation. This proposed investigation should not be a way of distracting public attention from the saga. There appears to be procurement issues as well that need to be looked into.
This is necessary in order to ensure that SADA does not become one of the failed projects that have been initiated in the past to help reduce poverty in the North and bridge the gap between the northern and southern parts of the country.
In the meantime, GII wishes to put forward the following questions to the SADA authorities:
Were the procurement processes followed in selecting partners and contractors to carry out the SADA sponsored projects? What are the main causes of the delays in the implementation of the SADA sponsored projects? What led to the reduction of the boreholes that were planned to be drilled and what would be the effect on the project? Can the management of SADA assure Ghanaians that some of the SADA resources were not diverted for political and personal purposes, as is being suspected? Thank you, Issued by Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII)