Sunyani -- The Chronicle's investigations into the recent speculations that the over ¢10 billion Brong Ahafo Regional Library complex project had been abandoned by the contractor, has taken a different dimension.
The paper was told that, the Sunyani - based contractor, Mr. Sam Owusu Bennett, also the Managing Director of the Sam Bennett Hardware, had diverted the contract sum of over ¢10 billion into the construction of his hotel annex, at the Eusbett hotel in Sunyani.
The library project, which was scheduled to start in August 2002 and expected to be completed in August 2005, had come to a standstill after the foundation was laid.
The contractor, in an interview with The Chronicle, debunked the allegations and explained that the contract which was awarded to him by the Ghana Library Board (BLB) in 2002, was to be funded by the Government of Ghana (GOG).
He added that, it was not stated in the contract document that he should pre-finance the project and after spending over ¢1 billion on it, only ¢40 million was released to him by the Public Investment Programme (PIP) instead of ¢3.4 billion annually.
Mr. Sam Bennett told The Chronicle that, the contract was dear to his heart and he was ever ready to complete the project in time to complement government's efforts at promoting education.
He said he would continue the work after the money invested in the project had been paid.
He appealed to the GOG to refund the money he had spent on the project in bulk, if there would be no means to continue the Library.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Co-ordinating Director (RCD), Francis Opoku Boateng, speaking to The Chronicle about the allegation against the contractor, urged the public to refrain from such conduct.
He said the people must rather praise the contractor for his commitment and the large sum of money he had spent on the project which the GOG had not got to pay him back, instead of accusing him of diverting the money into his private venture.
The New Regional Library complex, which was supposed to be a storey building, according to Mr. Boateng, had been on the drawing board for a very long time. "The contractor's action to abandon the project was in the right direction because the cash inflow was awfully inadequate," he said.
The RCD revealed that, an official letter of appeal had been sent to the Ministry of Education and a copy sent to the Administrator of GETFUND by the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Nana Kwadwo Seinti, for assistance from the GETFUND to speed up the project.
Mr. Boateng emphasised that the magnitude of the building could never be funded by the central government alone even if the completion period was extended to10 years.
He was confident that the letter to Mr. Baah Wiredu would receive the needed attention and approval to enable Mr. Sam Bennett continue the good work he was doing.
The New Library complex, when completed, would at least accommodate over 1,500 people at a time, which would promote quality education for the students.