Fixing the infrastructure deficits

Since independence, the country has spent billions of dollars on infrastructure — roads, schools, dams, the provision of electricity and water, among many other facilities.

However, very little is left of these huge investments, most of which were financed from international donor sources and by taxpayers.

In many instances, some of these facilities are awarded to contractors who are cronies of the political party in power or those who bid low and also have no capacity to handle some of the projects, leading to work that is shoddy or not fit for purpose or cannot stand the test of time or is not done to international standards.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE) has described Ghana’s road, electricity and water infrastructure as poor and lacking the capacity to meet international standards.

A 42-page report titled: “Ghana Infrastructure Report Card 2016”, and launched by the institute scored the country’s road network, electric power and water infrastructure with a grade D3, representing poor.

This state of affairs continues to linger, and while few people benefit through dubious means, the majority of the people for whom the infrastructure is built rather suffer and continue to wallow in poverty.

In many jurisdictions, such projects are captured under capital expenditure because they are expensive and meant to stand the test of time. Unfortunately for Ghana, many such projects last less than a quarter of their lifespan and each year governments have to continue budgeting for such projects.

Much as the Daily Graphic is not surprised at the report from the engineers, we still believe that those placed at the helm of affairs to ensure that these projects are awarded to the right contractors with the right capabilities to execute them have failed the nation.

It is simply appalling that government projects are executed without any supervision because, in many instances, the contractors connive with officials to do shoddy work.But there is the need to change the status quo, as infrastructure development has the potential to change the lifestyle of the people of the country.

For instance, a simple road constructed within a vicinity brings in its wake many businesses. Again, properly connected electricity to communities has the ability to transform the lives of the people because they will have the resource to build low capacity factories, at least, to employ a few people within the jurisdiction.

There are many other examples we can mention under the circumstance, but these few are testimony to the potential and power of such projects in changing the livelihood of the people.

We expect all duty bearers responsible for the building of the country’s infrastructure to be steadfast in the discharge of their duties to ensure that the mass of Ghanaians benefit fully from the huge taxes they pay to have things done.

We do not have to look to multilateral and bilateral donors alone for support to build the infrastructure because we are capable if we do what is right to enable the facilities to stand the test of time.

Our first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory, did it with the construction of the famous Tema Motorway, the Independence Square, the Akosombo Dam and many other projects. We too can do it in our time but it demands that we eschew greed and cronyism to renew the present infrastructure and narrow the gap by building more roads, power generation plants and water systems.

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