NDC MP for Adaklu constituency and Ranking Member for Parliament’s Roads and Transport Committee, Kwame Agbodza, has expressed disappointment in what he believes are unjustifiable allocations in the $646 million Sinohydro deal.
According to him, the unreasonable amounts allocated to some activities in the agreement may be a deliberate attempt by some elements to fleece the country.
Speaking on Eyewitness News on Monday, Kwame Agbodza said he is concerned that the government is unable to readily provide information on some aspects of the agreements although they were ideally necessary before the bill could be passed.
He said, “this particular agreement comes up with too many unknowns. We are trying to borrow $646 million from Synohydro to build 441 kilometres of road and 2 interchanges.”
“Whiles we were told at the committee level that the Bills of Quantities that were prepared includes tax, the contract suggests otherwise that the figures does not include taxes. We also noticed that this is quite a big project and we were asking whether the government sought the Public Procurement approval because it is a sole sourced project, that one was also not answered. We asked whether there will be value for money audit, we were told that will be done later…I don’t know why very critical things like these were things we should do later,” the MP said.
Commenting on some components of the project, he suggested that some of the allocations had been bloated.
Mr. Agbodza expressed shock that an amount of $1 million had been allocated for the setting up and demolishing of a temporary camp for the contractor of the Accra-Kumasi road.
“If you take Lot 2, which is Kumasi, we are supposed to pay $1 million for the contractor’s camp set up and demolishing after 24 months… If you take the road of Ofoase Kuma to Akim Oda Abirem that project says that we should provide about $720,000 for the project manager’s site office, and I say I can give you a 2 bedroom house in Accra even for $50,000. For the same project to obtain land for the contractor’s set up is $600,000,” the legislator lamented.
He also questioned why an amount of over $100,000 had been budgeted for taking of project photographs over the given 24-months period.
“To spend in excess of $106,000 for photographs for just 24 months on a 36 kilometer road, either someone made a mistake by leaving these figures in or someone is cooking up figures to do something with in future,” he said.
Despite his concerns and those of other members of the minority, Parliament passed the agreement by virtue of the large numbers of the majority caucus.
Kwame Agbodza said the development was unfortunate and suggested that the agreement should have been withdrawn and put before independent technocrats to review it.
“The figures are just huge figures without breakdown. I believe that we can do better by interrogating these figures, but the government has a significant majority in parliament so they bulldoze their way through so we have passed this unfortunately and that is what Ghanaians have got…. I just can’t believe that to set up a camp to do Kumasi roads, you need $1 million.”
“I suspect if we withdraw this agreement and give it to the professionals at the [Roads] Ministry, perhaps they may clean up this thing and make it more reasonable but guess what, this government says they are in a hurry, even in the a hurry to do the wrong things and that is what we have,” he said.
The $646 Sinohydro loan is the first tranche of the $2 billion infrastructure-for-bauxite facility the government has entered into with China.