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General News of Thursday, 11 October 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Mahama denies diverting $300m Pwalugu dam funds

Mahama Open Arms Former President John Dramani Mahama

Former President John Mahama has described as false, allegations that his administration diverted funds intended for the construction of the Pwalugu dam in the Upper East Region.

According to Mr Mahama, the dam never reached the stage where the government could access the funds before his party left office in January 2017.

The multi-purpose Pwalugu dam project was envisaged to help control the annual flooding of the area and also to serve some agricultural purposes, as well as generate cheap power.

Addressing delegates in the Bolga Central constituency as part of his tour of the Upper East Region, the former president, who wants to become the flag bearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) ahead of the 2020 polls, clarified that the funds his government secured were rather intended for the Juale dam on the Oti River between the Ghana-Togo border and financed by Brazil and the Ghana government at a cost of $300 million.

He explained that the Brazilian government provided $250 million for the 50-60-megawatt project, while Ghana paid $50 million.

Mr Mahama said it was, however, realised that the water would spill over into Togo and the compensation alone was more than $100 million.

“So, for only 50-60 megawatts power, the over $400 million was not looking very feasible and it was agreed with the Brazilians that the money should be applied to a different project but should be in the area where the dam was going to be located so that it will benefit the people.

“Then somebody goes and says: ‘They have diverted the Pwalugu money’; that is not true because Pwalugu did not reach the stage where the fund had been signed onto,” Mr Mahama said.

The former president said his government, therefore, sought the approval of parliament, and the money was re-assigned for the northern segment of the eastern corridor road, which, according to him, has been abandoned by the Akufo-Addo government.

“And, so, when they make accusations, they must get their facts right,” he added.

Just recently, the Northern Development Forum (NDF), a non-partisan association that advocates the development of northern Ghana, appealed to the government to provide a clear-cut roadmap for the construction of the dam, as part of measures toward curbing the perennial flooding of the three regions up north – Northern, Upper West and Upper East.

“NDF is appealing to the government to accelerate all processes towards the construction of the Pwalugu multi-purpose dam. This project has been on the drawing board since 1964”, Chairman of the NDF, Major Albert Don-Chebe (Rtd.) said at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, 9 October 2018.

In NDF’s view, such dams are the solution to the “needless loss of lives and property”.

Over the years, farmlands and homes have been submerged by floods in that part of the country during the rainy season. Lives and property are also lost in the recurrent floods.

Recurrent spillage of excess water from the Bagre Dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso, worsens the flood situation, resulting in immense devastation and destruction.

At least 6,000 people were displaced by the floods a few weeks ago with 34 deaths recorded as a result of the combined effects of the torrential rains and the excess water spillage.

Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, on behalf of the government, led a team that distributed emergency relief items to flood victims in communities in the Upper East and Upper West regions.