Contractors involved in government projects that have stalled under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP) want the projects’ costs reviewed.
According to them, this is a result of skyrocketing prices of building materials.
In 2017, the government awarded contracts for the construction of toilet facilities in 17 communities in the Ada West and East Districts and the renovation of the Kasseh market, a crucial hub serving various regions.
The IPEP projects are in line with the government’s One Constituency, $1 million promise to release a million dollars to all 275 constituencies annually to push rapid development across the country.
However, in April 2023, The Fourth Estate’s investigations into the projects revealed that not a single infrastructure development project has been completed under IPEP after seven years of implementation in the two districts.
The investigations uncovered a gross failure on the part of the government to fulfil its financial commitments to finalise the projects.
This has left both the toilet facilities and the market in limbo, much to the frustration of the communities they were meant to serve.
Six months after The Fourth Estate exposed the government’s inaction, there has been no progress on the ground.
“If the issues have been addressed you will definitely find me on site,” one of the contractors, who was very distraught, told The Fourth Estate.
The contractors explained that they are currently faced with significant challenges due to the ever-increasing cost of building materials in the country.
According to them, all government-abandoned projects would have to be re-evaluated to reflect the current economic situation.
The contractor of Browmnmos Real Estate, Mr Afolabi Mohammed, who was awarded a contract to construct five ultra-modern toilet facilities in the Ada West District, told The Fourth Estate that the initial budget allocated for the projects is no longer sufficient to cover the current expenses.
“If cement used to be like GH₵ 40.00 and it is almost GH₵ 100.00 now, how do you expect the cost to be the same? We will have to re-quantify the project,” he said.
The contractor lamented that they invested their own resources to keep the projects afloat, but it has become unsustainable, adding that the government must revaluate the project cost to reflect the current inflation rates and release the funds accordingly.
Only then, he said, can contractors ensure the successful completion of the facilities.
“The project will be completed if the government does what it ought to do. But if not, why should I waste my hard-earned money on something of which I haven’t even received all I have pumped into it?”
He continued: “I have stopped following it up; now I am busy. At times, my boys will just go and follow up that is all. I personally have stopped following it up because I can’t just be following this up and leave other things to spoil.”
He said other contractors involved in the project are also frustrated.
He noted that despite putting in efforts, there has been no positive outcomes over the period.
The contract agreement stipulated that the projects were to be completed within six months.
“The idea was to complete these projects even before the end of 2020. The project that you see out there, we did in less than six weeks, up to the stages you see it. Out of the 11, nine are at lintel level… less than six weeks … so that should even tell you the speed we put into this project,” he said.
Mr Kwasi Nyanteh from Bamabani Company emphasised the urgency of the situation, stating that the longer the delay, the more difficult it becomes to meet the needs of the deprived communities.
He said until the government fulfils its promise, the five contracts awarded to him at Nakomkorpey, Agbedrafor, Lolonya, Toflokpo, Ajumanikope, and Matsekope would continue to rot in the bush.
Six months ago, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Corporate Communication and Compliance at Coastal Development Authority (CODA), Mona Gertrude Effah, told The Fourth Estate that the projects were abandoned due to a delay in payment. She said the government was processing payment for the contractors.
When The Fourth Estate contacted her in August 2023, to find out why the government hadn’t paid the money, it was directed to the Deputy CEO of CODA, Mr Kingsley Kofi Karikari-Bondzie.
The Fourth Estate reached out to Mr Karikari-Bondzie, scheduled an interview but he later cancelled the interview when this reporter got to his office and he did not respond to calls or messages.
He redirected the reporter to Dennis Owusu Boateng, the Deputy Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at CODA, but Mr Boateng declined to speak.
Effects of abandoned projects on locals
The abandonment of the projects has left unfinished structures at Kasseh Market, Lolonya, Wokumagbe, Goi, and Bornikope that have been repurposed by locals for various activities including storage, places of convenience, waste disposal, shelter for substance abusers, and recreational spaces.
The uncompleted market project, according to the traders, has drastically limited the space for trading business as portions of the facility have been cordoned off.
Others have invested in canopies and large umbrellas to protect them from the scorching sun.
Elderly residents in communities where the toilet facilities are abandoned are resorting to other methods to attend nature’s call.
The Ada East and West Districts have grappled with a persistent threat to public health in the form of waterborne diseases, particularly diarrhoea, which continues to afflict the community at an alarming rate. The Ada East District Hospital, overseeing Ada West as well, reported a staggering 2,729 cases of diarrhoea between 2020 and 2022, with 681 cases recorded in 2022 alone.
Dr Philip Narh, the Medical Superintendent of Ada East District Hospital, attributes the increased cases to open defecation and inadequate personal hygiene practices. He explains that disease-causing agents originating from faecal matter find their way into water bodies used for domestic purposes.
The contamination extends to fruits and vegetables cultivated in these areas.
In communities such as Sege, Nakomkorpey, Adjumanikope, and Agbedrafor, residents acknowledge open defecation as a pressing public health issue but say they feel compelled by the lack of alternatives to continue with the practice. Residents also say they are conscious of the health risks posed by this practice, as rainwater carries faeces into the rivers that serve as their drinking and cooking water sources.
In the lead up to the 2016 general election, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) pledged to combat poverty and reduce inequality among different socio-economic segments in certain targeted regions.
They aimed to achieve this by directly offering essential infrastructure at the constituency level, with a particular focus on rural and underserved areas.
Under the auspices of CODA, the NPP government awarded contracts for the establishment of public toilet facilities in 17 communities in the Ada and Sege constituencies.
Within the Sege constituency GH₵ 3.3 million was allocated for the creation of 10 10-seater water closet toilet facilities, each augmented with a shower.
This cost more than GH₵327,000.00 per unit and was undertaken for the benefit of 10 distinct communities.
Among the beneficiary communities were Ajumanikope, Akplabanya, Caeserkorpey, Lolonya, Matsekope, Nakomkorpe and Anyaman (relocated to Toflokpo).
The rest were Bajorhe (relocated to Koluedor), Hwakpo (relocated to Sege), and Amuyaokorpey (relocated to Afiadenyigba).
The remaining seven communities were also earmarked to receive public toilet facilities, each equipped with a mechanised borehole as an alternative to showers.
These were projected to cost not more than GH₵447,000.00 for three specific communities within the Sege constituency: Bornikope, Goi, and Wokumagbe.
Additionally, four similar facilities were planned for locations in the Ada constituency comprising the Ada market at Kasseh, the Ada community centre at Big Ada, Ada Foah, and Songutsokpa. These initiatives placed a financial burden of over GHC 595,000.00 on the Ghanaian taxpayer, with each project costing GH₵ 148,966.40.
The government also awarded a contract sum of about GH₵ 2 million to Rock Solutions Limited to construct ultra-modern market sheds, an open pavilion with pavement, and a creche.
A significant portion of these initiatives began in 2017, with the remaining projects commencing in 2020.
However, progress was hindered and work eventually ceased well before the stipulated six-month completion deadline.
Monies for IPEP Implementation
In 2017, the Ministry of Special Development Initiative (MSDI), the supervising ministry for the projects, received approximately GH₵ 1.8 million from the Office of the President for operational commencement. Out of this, GH₵ 226,395.00 was allocated for goods and services, while GH₵ 1,555,509.00 was designated for capital expenditure.
In 2018, Parliament approved GH₵ 1,239,409,969.00 for the Ministry, but only GH₵ 103,773,596 was disbursed for IPEP implementation.
In 2019, Parliament sanctioned GH₵ 1,333,502,750.00 for the Ministry.
In the same year, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Ken Ofori-Atta, issued letters marking the initiation of the full implementation of the $1 million per constituency commitment through IPEP.
The commencement documents facilitated the allocation of GHc1.664 billion (equivalent to $320 million) across all 275 constituencies within the country. This encompassed $275 million designated for the constituencies, with an additional $45 million allocated for outstanding commitments.
By September 2019, the IPEP Capital Expenditure reached GH₵ 385,449,138.18, contrasted with GH₵ 379,718,946.53 released, according to a MSDI document presented to the Finance Ministry.
For 2020 and 2021, Parliament allocated GH₵ 1,050,087,109 and GH₵ 96,682,700.00 respectively to MSDI.
The Ministry’s medium-term expenditure plan proposed over GH₵ 1.3 billion for each of the three Development Authorities from 2020 to 2023.