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General News of Sunday, 27 March 2016

Source: Starrfmonline.com

Prosecute SADA culprits - UE/R coalition petitions gov’t

A coalition of civil society organisations in the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) zone has petitioned government to prosecute officials embroiled in the misappropriation scandal that unsettled the authority shortly after it took off in 2010.

The group, known as the Coalition of SADA Zone CSOs, presented this petition among other demands to the Upper East Regional Minister, Albert Abongo, Thursday in Bolgatanga, the regional capital.

“We call on government to take urgent steps to retrieve all monies wrongly paid to individuals and companies who failed to deliver on their contracts and obligations to the people of the Northern Savannah Zone. We also demand that the government should take steps to prosecute people whose actions and inactions contributed to causing financial loss to the authority and the people of Ghana. This will restore confidence, public trust and also serve as a deterrent to people who are holding such positions of trust,” a statement, presented by Milton Aberinga, said.

SADA budgetary allocations missing?
The coalition is also lamenting what it calls failure on the part of government to ensure efficient flow of budgetary allocations to the authority.

“We are very much aware that Section 18 of the SADA Act 805 of 2010 enjoins government to make annual budgetary allocations to SADA as well as introduce levies on all non-petroleum imports to fund SADA. Despite this provision, it is very regrettable that since 2012 the government of Ghana has failed to make any meaningful budgetary allocation to SADA.

“The government should as a matter of urgency make a minimum allocation of 200 million cedis to SADA in its 2016 Supplementary Budget Statement to Parliament. This will revitalise the authority financially and restore public confidence and trust in the government’s commitment to making SADA work for the good of the citizens living in the zone,” the group demanded.

The Executive Secretary to the coalition, Bismarck Adongo Ayorogo, alleged that some budgetary allocations announced by government in 2013 and 2014 were never disbursed. He warned that such handling of the affairs of the authority would “send the clock of progress in the Savannah area backwards”.

Coalition on poor roads, collapsed factories, insecurity
When given the opportunity to bring up issues not highlighted in the petition statement, members of the coalition spoke passionately about the poor road networks, the collapsed factories and the state of security in the Upper East Region.

“The road from Bawku to Bolga has been on our minds. Another road is the Navrongo-Sandema.

Some roads are tarred in towns in the region, others are not. We have also realised that individuals have taken over government’s land. The tomato factory, the meat factory and rice mill are a big challenge. We only need finance from within the region to revive them ourselves, not any human resource from outside,” Seidu Mustapha, representative of the Upper East Youth Association, said.

Upper East Regional Chairman of the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health, Noble Asakeya Alagskomah, suggested building contractors engaged by government should be made to grow trees as part of contract agreement.

“We have realised that when they are building public institutions, they don’t grow trees. It should part and parcel of the contract agreement that you grow trees,” he proposed.

“Slow” President avoiding another mess? Regional Minister
In response to the coalition’s concerns about what it describes as slow pace of government’s commitment to SADA, the Regional Minister explained that President John Dramani Mahama is only taking well-measured steps just to avoid another embarrassment after the initial mess the authority suffered a few years ago.

“SADA took off on a very positive note. However, the challenges, we all understand, were daunting for any leader of a country. And so, government had to step back a little bit to see how SADA can be reorganised to be attractive not only to the people of this country, but to be attractive to the outside world. We are beginning in place measures for a better start than we had.

“But if you sat back as a leader of this country and a person who comes from the north and you got the embarrassment that we got in the initial implementation, you have to sit back and plan which way to go so that when resources are flowing we are sure that they are not going to be wasted. As a President, you don’t want to be disgraced again,” the minister explained, adding that nonpayment of budgetary allocations was not peculiar to SADA alone but common among other agencies.

Brazilian company awarded Bolga-Bawku Road

Whilst indicating that efforts were being made to revamp the collapsed factories, Mr. Abongo also underscored the need for the region to prepare to sustain operations at the factories with as much raw materials as would be needed all year round to justify the rehabilitation investments made. He added that the Bolgatanga-Bawku Road contract had been awarded to a Brazilian company currently working on the Tamale Airport in the Northern.

“I have the confidence that this project will be started soon. Twenty kilometres of roads within Bolga Township will be asphalted and some feeder roads will be reconstructed,” the Regional Minister announced.

The coalition was formed in 2015 with about seventy CSOs as well as chiefs and queen mothers from five regions including the Upper East, the Upper West, the Northern, the Volta and the Brong Ahafo. Its aim is to advocate for the development of the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone with a sharp focus on the activities of SADA.