Government has paid over one billion Ghana Cedis within the past 11 months to road contractors as outstanding arrears for work executed during the previous government's era, Mr Kwesi Amoako-Atta, the Minister of Roads and Highways, has disclosed.
The Minister added that the Government had made arrangement to disburse another GHC120 million to road contractors whose arrears had been outstanding between two to five years.
Mr Amoako-Atta made this known at the swearing-in of a nine-member Ministerial Advisory Board of the Ministry of Roads and Highways in Accra.
Mr Amoako-Atta, who is also the Chairperson of the Advisory Board, said the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led government was poised to ensure regular payment of road contractors despite the financial challenges it was currently grappling with so as to ensure quality work delivery.
He said the Road Fund, which was supposed to receive an average between GHC70 to GHC80million every month, had not gotten the required amount due to a loan the previous government contracted from the United Bank of Africa (UBA).
The Minister said the Government was currently paying GHC67million every month to the UBA to service the loan at an interest rate of 30 per cent, which would be completed by the end of August next year, therefore GHC37 million was left in the Fund every month.
"We don't want to default in payment in view of the financial consequences we may suffer, therefore we should be creative and innovative so that we can bring out ideas to deal with the road issues," he stated.
Mr Amoako-Atta therefore, urged the Board to bring their expertise and experiences on board to move the government's agenda of ensuring quality roads across the country was realised.
"Ghana is 60 years old and if you travel abroad, you realised that we're lagging behind in terms of road infrastructure so we need to do something about it," he noted.
The Minister said the country had over 72,000 kilometres of roads out of which 23 per cent had been asphalted with 39 per cent in good condition and 61 per cent could be classified as fair or poor.
"So as members of the Board we must collectively ensure that our roads are in good shape and safe as well as ensuring value for money," he said.
The other members of the Board are; Kwabena Owusu-Aduom, a Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Godwin Joseph Brocke, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Roads and Highways and Mr Daniel Kow Brainoo, the National Vice President of the Progressive Road Contractors Association.
The rest are; Mr Ludwig A. Hesse, from the Ghana Institution of Engineers, Mr Kwadwo H. Osei-Asante, from the Ghana Institution of Surveyors, Mr Frank A. Raji, the Director of Policy Planning, Budget, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Amatus K. B. Deyang, the Director of Agricultural, Engineering and Services Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Mr Michael Ayesu, the Director in charge of External Resource Mobilisation of the Ministry of Finance.
A representative from the Attorney-General's Department administered the Oath of Office and Secrecy to the Board members.
The Board which is constituted under Civil Service Law, 1993 (PNDCL 327) has a four-year tenure, and would serve as an interface between the Ministry and other stakeholders.
It would also offer advice on policy direction to the government.