Civil Society Organisation (CSO), SEND Ghana has admonished government to involve the citizenry more at the local level to help prevent misapplication and shoddy work associated with public sector projects.
This is the resolve of SEND Ghana at the end of its Monitoring for Financial Savings (M4FS) Project undertaken over the past two years with support from Integrity Action.
Under the project, groups of citizens in five districts in the Northern Region were enabled to monitor the delivery of infrastructure projects in the health, education, WASH, and other sectors within their communities with funding from public sources including DACF, GETFUND, IPEP, etc.
These groups of citizens were tasked to track the delivery of these infrastructure projects, highlight problems, engage in a dialogue with key government officials, contractors, and other duty bearers, and seek a range of improvements to how these projects are delivered.
In the past two years, the group of citizens monitoring projects in the various districts identified 546 problems and managed to get 515 of the problems fixed.
In addition to the citizen monitoring, SEND Ghana also employed the services of researchers from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to monitor the 15 selected projects.
During the Monitoring for Financial Savings (M4FS) Project, SEND Ghana identified delays in the release of resources from the national level, poor collaboration with district and regional-level actors in implementing national-level projects, and weak transparency in project delivery as key challenges associated with public sector projects.
Speaking to the media on Thursday during the dissemination of the findings of the Monitoring for Financial Savings (M4FS) Project, SEND Ghana CEO Mr. Siapha Kamara said it is evident that if government involves citizens during the execution of public sector projects, it will help to save cost.
“The idea is that if we imbed citizens in monitoring infrastructural projects that can prevent some of the leakages and therefore bring savings and value addition to the project. So that’s what we have been doing for the past two years.
“The project has now ended and the conclusion is that imbedding citizens in public sector projects can help to save money because those citizens will detect weaknesses in the implementation and in the executive of public sector projects that allow those who are supervising the project to take the decision to prevent misapplication, shoddy work, and all of that. That is what it shows,” he indicated.
For Mr. Siapha Kamara, it is important that information about contracts is given to the local people so that during the monitoring of public sector projects, they will be able to hold contractors accountable.
According to Albert Arhin, one of the researchers engaged at KNUST, citizen monitoring alone is not enough although its impact on cost saving is very significant.
He argued that in a country where about a third of projects started are not completed, it is crucial to have a government that is willing to get things done and will sanction non-performing contractors.
He noted that these coupled with the imbedding of citizens will help the country a great deal for the execution of public sector projects.