PRAYERS “Almighty God, we humbly besiege thee, to look with favor upon this Country. Grant that leaders may perform their high duties as in thy sight. Give divine guidance to the President of the Republic, endow Members of Parliament and Ministers of state with discernment and vision, integrity and courage that through the labors of government this land and people may be well and truly served and thy good purposes for the common human life be realized in our mist. Amen.
Oh God, grant our leaders a vision of our country fair as it might be, a country of righteousness where non shall wrong his neighbor. A country of plenty where evil, corruption and poverty shall be done away with. A country of brotherhood where all success shall be founded on service and honor shall be given to the deserving. A country of peace where government shall rest on the will of the people and the love for the common good. Bless the effort of those who struggle to make this vision a living reality, inspire and strengthen our leaders that they may give time, thought and sacrifice to speed the day of the coming beauty of GHANA.
INTRODUCTION Good morning, people of Atwima Nwabiagya South, friends from the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the peaceful demonstration dubbed Enough is Enough demonstration on the 26th September, 2019. We demonstrated to the rest of Ghanaians that, fighting for development shouldn’t in anyway compromise on the security of the state. The Ghana Police Service did a yeoman’s job in protecting lives and properties, and our Colleagues from the media indeed carried out our message as expected. We are indeed grateful.
We are here this morning, to put forward twenty critical questions in relation to the Sofoline,Tanoso-Abuakwa road and demand government’s response to that effect; respond to the Ashanti Regional Minister’s statement on the “Enough is Enough” demonstration which was to express our disappointment and anger to the government’s “State Sponsored Traffic” and answer to matters arising aftermath of the demonstration.
To begin with, the Sofoline interchange project, is an 11km dual carriage road from the komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital to Abuakwa in the Atwima Nwabiagya Municipality. The road was awarded to CHINA GEO CONSTRUCTION LIMITED with an initial cost of $80 million dollars. The components of the road includes:
- Widening of the KATH/ABUAKWA stretch of road.
- Two interchanges. One at KATH and the other at Sofoline.
- Five under pass bridges at (South Suntreso, Agric College, UEW Kumasi campus, Apatrapa Junction and IPT junction).
The project was started in 2007 and earmarked for completion in 2010. The road which serves as the main motorable route connects many regions including Western North, Ahafo and Northern Regions to the Ashanti Regional Capital, Kumasi. The project has been suspended for several times as 4th June, 2011, 23th April,2013, 11th June,2015 are some of the dates such suspensions on the road by the contractor were published.
BUDGET STATEMENTS ON THE SOFOLINE, TANOSO-ABUAKWA ROAD
1. 2008- GOVERNMENT WILL UNDERTAKE THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE ROAD
(Hon. Kwadwo Baah Wiredu; pg174, paragraph 137) 2. 2009- THE KUMASI-SUNYANI ROAD IS 15% COMPLETE
(Hon.kwabena Duffuor; pg 120, paragraph 523) 3. 2010-THE SOFOLINE INTERCHANGE AND ABOUT 11KM OF ADJOURNING ROADS ARE CURRENTLY 25% COMPLETE
(Hon. Kwabena Duffuor; pg 125, paragraph 370) 4. 2011- THE DEPARTMENT OF URBAN ROADS WILL CONTINUE TO TAKE ROUTINE WORKS ON THE ROAD
(Hon. Kwabena Duffuor; pg 116, paragraph 443) 5. 2012- THE ROAD IS BEING UNDERTAKEN (Hon. Kwabena Duffuor; pg 125, paragraph 540) 6. 2013- THE ROAD WILL BE UNDERTAKEN ` (Hon. Seth Terkper; pg 50, paragraph 201-202) 7. 2014- THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ROAD CONTINUES AFTER 80% COMPLETION IN 2013
(Hon. Seth Terkper; pg 98, paragraph 572) 8. 2015- GOVERNMENT IS NEGOTIATING FOR FUNDING FOR THE PROJECT
(Hon. Seth Terkper; pg 98, paragraph 503) 9. 2016- THE ROAD IS 98% COMPLETE (Hon. Seth Terkper; pg 110, paragraph 571) 10. 2017- NOTHING WAS CAPTURED ABOUT THE PROJECT IN THE BUDGET
11. 2018- NOTHING WAS CAPTURED ABOUT THE PROJECT IN THE BUDGET
12. 2019- NOTHING WAS CAPTURED ABOUT THE PROJECT IN THE BUDGET
EFFECTS OF THE ROAD ON USERS The road which the government has failed to complete has now become an albatross on the neck of many. The frustration and stress, users of the road endure is unreasonably not acceptable. The “state sponsored traffic” as we have termed it cannot continue. I repeat the “state sponsored traffic” as we have termed it cannot continue.
- EDUCATION: The state sponsored traffic is suffocating development of education greatly in the Municipality. Apart from education facilitating the development of human resources, one should not be oblivious of the economic benefits to the hosting community. Ghana Baptist University College Seminary at Abuakwa has sadly become a Photo Shoot, Wedding and Naming Ceremony ground. The School Authorities’ plan on moving their Business School from the Amakom Campus to Abuakwa Campus failed as students took an entrenched position on the matter due to the intensity of traffic on the Sofoline, Tanoso-Abuakwa stretch.
Private Schools with the capacity in training good students are now faced with low enrollment. This in addition has affected indirect jobs created as a result of the schools running below their capacity.
- CIVIL SERVANTS: Notwithstanding the fatigue civil servants go through, their stress is aggravated by the use of the road. In the morning, most workers get to their
working place, already tired. The state sponsored traffic has a direct correlation with productivity. Again most of them have no choice after work than to endure the pain of sitting in a commercial vehicle for 2 to 3 hours on a journey which could last for 15mins. Parents among them find it difficult raising their kids as waking up early and coming to the house very late has become the order of the day.
- MARKET MEN AND WOMEN: Traders in the Regional Capital who reside at ABUAKWA and other adjourning towns are put in an undue disadvantage as those residing in other parts of Kumasi are likely to start work early, cash in more before they get to the market. This has been a major concern for our mothers and wives who are working very hard in supporting their families. The road has literally cut off the people from Kumasi.
- LANDLORD: The sad truth is that, landlords are not getting people to rent their rooms. The traffic is a complete put off for most people when renting. This has directly affected the socio-economic development of the area.
- HEALTH AND SAFETY: Considering the seat arrangement and spacing in commercial vehicles, most people especially old people are forced to endure long hours in traffic thereby exposing them to health risk. Motorist who tend to resort to the auxiliary roads thus Bokankye, Pokukrom, Apatrapa and Housing are not free from the health risk due to the dusty nature of the roads.
A week before the demonstration, A member of YCP, Nana Arhin met his untimely death at the IPT junction due to lack of road signs. His death and many others could have been prevented. Neglecting safety on such a major highway uncovers government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the safety of citizens.
- DRIVERS: You may not need to be a rocket scientist to determine how drivers have been affected due to the nature of the road. Literally the government is forcing taxi drivers here into early retirement. No one is willing to take a taxi even if they can afford and get stuck in traffic for hours; the suffering of drivers cannot be underestimated.
- TRAVELERS: Travelers from Kumasi to other parts of the country which is linked by this main road are put in a needless stress situations.
- RELATIONSHIP: It will interest most of us here to know that, the road in its current state is serving as a barrier between lovers or partners. In fact, there have been breakups as moving from Tanoso to Abuakwa alone is like a journey to the West.
RESPONSE TO THE ASHANTI REGIONAL MINISTER’S STATEMENT
Youth Coalition for Progress (YCP) has taken due notice of a GHANA WEB publication titled, “I have no respect for Ashanti’s who demonstrated against the government” dated Wednesday, 2nd October, 2019.
It must be noted that, Youth Coalition for Progress was not formed for any political expediency as it was formed out of an old students association mainly because of the frustration and stress members and their families go through using the Sofoline, Tanoso-Abuakwa road. The “STATE SPONSORED TRAFFIC” does not call for the usual rhetoric’s from our leaders as Budget Statements read on the floor of parliament from 2007-2019 as I have stated above, only suggest the obvious.
First, the Minister’s statement, “As for them I don’t respect them and I won’t address them; because they did not show me respect by organizing those demonstrations. Some of them are assemblymen, as they should have channeled their grievances through their respective chief executives or even through me, ask them if they did any such steps”, does not add up.
Citizens who embark on legal and peaceful demonstration do not need to sit down with a Minister for discussion in order to be respectful on a matter especially of this nature where the people have tolerated government for twelve (12) years running. These people cannot be termed as disrespectful. The anger and stress of the people accumulated over decades cannot be vented out in the Minister’s office.
In fact, we rather stopped people from relegating into Thomas Hobbes “State of Nature” by defusing the anger of the people through a peaceful demonstration.
Again, the Executives of YCP throughout our campaign for the road to be fixed did not insult or disrespect the Hon. Minister in any submission made. Therefore, it comes as a surprise to accept the Minister’s statement. We are disappointed in the Minister for choosing to disrespect citizens who embarked on a legal and peaceful demonstration instead of calming nerves down and pushing for the completion of the project.
The claim that some of our members are assemblymen is factually incorrect. No Assembly member is an executive member of YCP. However, even if there is any in other youth groups, the Minister should rather concede that, the situation amounts to a great lack of trust in the assurances leaders like him have been given.
Again, to say that, the Municipal Chief Executive was not informed is out of place. We sent him a letter of invite for a petition and assured him of an opportunity in reaching out to the people. The same MCE failed to show up but rather enjoyed himself talking about the same issue on radio that particular day. What is more disrespectful than this?
Moreover the Minister’s statement, “they are not my focus; my focus is on the people of the Ashanti region, for whose wellbeing and development I have been appointed their Minister and not those who embarked on the demonstration; I will not address them” is regrettably sad. The
Minister should know better in terms of the voting pattern of the people of Atwima Nwabiagya. Those who throng on the streets of Abuakwa and Tanoso are the same people who sacrificed their sleep, queued at dawn and voted for his government to be in power. S3 woanya hwee ama
w’ase a yen b) no kr)no. To wit, if you don’t get anything for your in-law, you don’t steal from him or her. The Minister must again, remember that,b33bia yedidi ho no, y3n sei h). To wit,you don’t destroy where you eat from.
The Demonstration was fronted by the youth but included drivers, businessmen and women, and market women. Thus to a larger extent, disregarding all these hardworking citizens who are calling on government not to put money in their pockets but rather solve the “STATE SPONSORED TRAFFIC” in order to save their jobs and increase productivity.
The Minister disrespecting us do not in any way help in completing the Sofoline Interchange Project. We urge him to rather step up and push for the road to be completed.
Twenty Questions for Government response on the Sofoline- Abuakwa Road
On that note, we are demanding answers to the following questions from the government.
1. How much was allocated to the Eighty million Dollar ($80,000,000) Sofoline Interchange project in the President Kufuor’s administration for the commencement of the project and the amount spent on the project before leaving office. We want to know!
2. As a government of Ghana fully funded project, how much was in the coffers of the GOG/ROAD FUND when it became obvious that, the GOG/ROAD FUND will be the source of funding for the project. We want to know!
3. Did the repackaging of the contract come to parliament for approval as the project with an initial cost of Eighty million Dollars ($80,000,000) will now cost tax payers One Hundred and Fifty million Dollars ($150,000,000) before completion due to delays in payments, lack of funding and time overrun by the previous government. We want to know!
4. The design of the road has been compromised as key components of the project including an interchange at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and more importantly four under pass bridges out of the five cannot be seen with “apolitical eyes”. I’m sure our leaders can see such components, if not,what are the alternative solution to the safety problem created as lives of Students at the University Of Education Winneba and pedestrians are endangered whiles crossing the road. We want to know!
5. In a publication dated 15th August 2018, the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo directed the Ministry of Finance to release Twenty Seven million Dollars ($27,000,000) for the continuation of the Project.
However in a publication dated 22nd November 2018, the Minister of Roads and Highways on a tour to assess the Project stated explicitly that an amount of Thirty million Ghana Cedis (GHS30,000,000) has been released for the continuation of the project. If the President’s assertion is anything to go by, the cedi equivalent missing is Ninety one million, five hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GHS91,500,000) or the Minister diverted the remaining amount to another project of interest? We want to know!
6. We want to know on what basis did the President instruct the release of the $27 million dollars without being captured in any of his government’s budget statement. Or is it the case that money not being released by the Ministry of Finance after one year, suggest that,
the President gave false hope to the people of Atwima Nwabiagya South? We want to know!
7. What is preventing the government from completing the twelve (12) year old Sofoline interchange project before commencement of the Tema Interchange, Pokuase Interchange, Obetsebi Interchange and Tamale Interchange? Or Government is deliberately neglecting
the people of Atwima Nwabiagya as it has failed to capture the project in all the budget statements read on the floor of parliament since 2017. It is unpardonable to allocate money for the construction of three interchanges in Greater Accra Region alone within three years whiles the twelve year old Sofoline Interchange project is neglected. We want to know!
8. Not a pesewa from the recent GHS 2.2 billion released by the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Roads and Highways for onward disbursement to contractors went to China Geo Construction Company Limited for the completion of the project. Can the government deny this fact? We want to know!
9. How much is the government of Ghana owing China Geo Construction Company Limited after paying them the thirty million Ghana cedis (GHS30 million)? We want to know
10. For how long should the people of Atwima Nwabiagya suffer from this “state sponsored traffic”? We want to know!
11. When will road safety signs be mounted on the stretch of road in preventing the rampant accidents which have been recorded over the years? Within Eighteen (18) months, 160 pedestrians have been killed on the road. Fixing these road signs in our estimation shouldn’t take more than three weeks. We want it done!
12. Are there any plans in fixing the auxiliary roads thus Bokankye,Apatrapa, Pokukrom and Housing roads in easing up traffic on the main route? We want to know!
13. In 2015, as stated earlier, Government told Parliament that, it was negotiating for funding for the project. Since Parliament is a house of records, we are demanding for the amount that was raised and spent on the road or is it the case that the negotiating for funds didn’t bare any fruit? We want to know!
14. Government carried out an audit on road contracts after taking over from the previous government. We want to know whether indeed the Sofoline,Tanoso-Abuakwa road contract was audited and if so, government should publish the findings to dispel and allegation of misappropriation.
15. After all the compensation paid to most of the people affected by the road, why has government looked unconcerned for building of stores springing up along the stretch of the
road? Tax payer’s money will be unwisely spent in clearing all the occupied lands again just because someone didn’t do his or her work.
16. At page 110, paragraph 571 of the budget statement 2016, the government stated that, the road is 98% complete. We want to know whether this government agrees to this assertion.
17. The argument that Ghana is broke by the Finance Minister cannot be accepted. Why should a broke country who has failed to complete a major road project in three years give tax exemptions of over 2 Billion Dollars to foreign companies in the year 2018 alone?
The gods might be crazy. 18. From all indications, funds from the GOG/ROAD FUND has not been reliable in completing the project. Why has government not considered a reliable source of funding the project? We want to know!
19. Where are the men? Is the government really a listening government?
20. Will the 2020 Budget be a game changer in terms of allocating fund for the completion of the project? We want to know!
CONCLUSION In conclusion, government must move beyond mere rhetoric characterized by pure dishonesty and deceit. We are fed up with the burden and inconveniences the “state sponsored traffic” has plunged us into. All the Budget Statements read on the floor of parliament from 2008-2019 suggest, government’s lack of commitment towards the completion of the project. Government’s inability to complete this major project (Sofoline Interchange project) is an indictment on the integrity of our Leaders. They must bow down their heads in shame for they have failed miserably.
Nonetheless, government has the chance to redeem itself by completing the project with the needed alacrity. I state unequivocally that, nothing less than seeing the contractor with machines on the road working after the 2020 Budget read, will be accepted.
We want to assure the people of Atwima Nwabiagya South and those affected that, we shall not sleep till those responsible for the completion of the road, who are asleep, but always pretend to be awake, wake up.
God Bless the good people of ATWIMA NWABIAGYA SOUTH, GOD BLESS THE PRESIDENT, GOD BLESS GHANA!!!!!!!!