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18.08.2005 General News

Ghana, EC sign agreement for road rehabilitation

GNA

Accra, Aug. 18, GNA - Ghana and the European Commission (EC) on Thursday signed an 11 million Euro (approximately 121 billion cedis) agreement for the immediate rehabilitation of 22 feeder roads in cocoa growing areas.

The agreement is the third and final phase of the release of funds from the EC under its STABilisation Export (STABEX) earnings programme within the Lom=E9 Convention.

Mr Guy Samzun, Head of Cooperation, signed for the EC and said STABEX came about since 1997 when the Commission signed the Framework of Mutual Obligation with Ghana to compensate her for the shortfall in export earnings due to fluctuations in the prices or supply of commodities.

He said the works to be undertaken in six regions - Western, Ashanti, Central, Brong Ahafo, Eastern and Volta - were to improve export development and create easy access to markets for the farmers. The total length of feeder roads to be improved or rehabilitated is estimated at 389 kilometres.

Mr Samzun said he hoped the project would go a long way to improve the economic situation of beneficiaries and reduce poverty through the cooperation that existed between the EC and Ghana. He expressed the hope that the country would soon submit a financial proposal to the EU for the release of funds for he rehabilitation of 400 kilometres of similar roads in the Afram Plains and Fanteakwa Districts, among other districts earmarked for another project.

Mr Magnus Opare-Asamoah, Deputy Minister of Road Transport, said the agreement between the EU and Ghana was to enable the country to also rehabilitate quarries. He said the broad aims for the projects in the cocoa growing areas were to eliminate problems that hampered the evacuation of cocoa from the farms.

Mr Opare-Asamoah said in the first phase of the agreement, the EC gave Ghana 21.2 million Euros for which 621 kilometres of feeder roads in six regions were given to 40 contractors for rehabilitation. In the second phase, Ghana received eight million Euros for the rehabilitation of 438 kilometres in two regions and 16 contractors undertook the work.

The current project, which is expected to begin immediately, is subdivided into 22 lots for the contractors. The work is scheduled for completion in 12 months.

Mr Opare-Asamoah cautioned the contractors saying: "Of late some contractors have been doing shoddy work. This is a source of worry to the Ministry and, therefore, you must pay serious attention and avoid shoddy work. You must work to our specifications and budget for each contract and ensure that the work is completed within the timeframe otherwise we will not hesitate to terminate your contracts." The Deputy Minister also advised the consultants on the projects to do their supervisory work in a professional manner to ensure value for money.

Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, who signed for Ghana, said the Ministry was interested in monitoring and evaluating previous works so as to ensure that there was an improvement in the current project.

He said this phase included capacity building programmes for staff of the Feeder Roads Department and advised the implementers to include students from the Universities and technical schools.

He said the Ministry would do everything to speed to up the payment process to the contractors. Mr Joseph Chognuru, Head of the ACP/EU Desk at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, told the GNA that the EU was trying to help Ghana mitigate the shortfalls in cocoa export earnings. This was in answer to a number of questions including whether the amount given to Ghana so far had been able to bridge the gap between the expected and actual earnings received from the export of cocoa since the Memorandum of Understanding was signed for STABEX.

He said the EC had given Ghana about 50 million Euros since the programme began but he could not give exact figures of the shortfalls for the period.

On whether Ghana had a plan to access any such funds in the future, Mr Chognuru said under the Cotonou Agreement the EU came up with two different programmes known as the envelope 'A' and 'B'. Ghana has so far accessed funding in the envelope 'A' but could access 'B' which was created for unforeseen circumstances such as price shocks on the export market.

Some of the districts to benefit from the agreement include Juaboso-Bia, Wassa Amenfi, Aowin Suaman and Sefwi Wiaso in the Western Region, Upper Denkyira and Assin in the Central Region and Ahafo Ano North, Ahafo Ano South, Amansie West and Atwima in the Ashanti Region and Asunafo, Dormaa, Asutifi Districts in the Brong Ahafo Region. 18 Aug. 05

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