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General News of Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Source: citinewsroom.com

Eric Opoku calls for more allocation for cocoa roads in 2020 budget

The Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture, Food and Cocoa Affairs, Eric Opoku, wants the government to allocate funds for completion of cocoa roads in the country in the 2020 budget.

Speaking to Citi News, he said the completion of the roads was necessary to ultimately boost agriculture production in communities currently suffering from poor road networks.

Mr. Opoku referenced the earlier suspension of work on cocoa roads which he said has contributed to the problems.

“For three years, no action has been taken and the roads are not in good shape. We expect the budget to make adequate provision in terms of resources to be able to finish these roads and make these roads motorable.”

“… [Work on the roads are needed] so that people who are interested in buying foodstuff from the local communities can ply these roads, go there, buy the foodstuff, cart them to urban centres so that these people can make some kind of income from the sweat.”

The Akufo-Addo administration suspended the cocoa road projects in 2017 for an audit following corruption concerns.

The Mahama administration, which came before it, was among other things, accused of awarding over 230 different road contracts to the tune of GHC3.5 billion under the project, to the detriment of the Ghana Cocoa Boards’ finances.

The government has since lifted the suspension and has said contractors are being supplied funds to resume work on various projects.

Government indebtedness to contractors has been a recurrent challenge in the execution of road projects over the years.

In July, the government said contractors are being supplied funds to resume work on various cocoa road projects.

In May, a similar announcement was made with the Minister for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako Attah, saying the resumption of the suspended road projects followed the government’s directive to the Finance Ministry to release funds to settle debt owed contractors.

At the time, he said about $1 billion had been earmarked for outstanding payments.

But there are no indications that any significant funding has been released.