A value-for-money audit done by Crown Agents on the expansion works on the Ridge Hospital in Accra saved Ghana $40million, President John Mahama has said, debunking accusations by the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) that the project was overpriced.
Responding to those accusations in an exclusive interview with Ovation International, Mr Mahama said the Ridge Hospital is one of those projects that flag bearer of the NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo “openly said was overpriced.”
“The Ridge Hospital is one of those projects that went for value-for-money [audit] and the value-for-money saved us $40 million. The Crown Agents said that we could apply the $40 million on additional expansion work on the Ridge Hospital, and, so, the scope of the hospital was expanded because of the value-for-money that was undertaken, and yet you point at the $40 million and say it was an inflated contract. You see my point?” Mr Mahama said.
Read Mr Mahama’s full response to that particular allegation and the issue of corruption in general:
Ovation: Another topical issue is corruption. They say President Mahama and his government officials have stolen all their money. How would you react to this allegation?
Mahama: It is absolutely untrue (President Mahama leans forward in his seat). I have responded to them (the opposition and all those making the allegation). I have said that some people have become political quantity surveyors. You can make an assessment of a project, only if you know the scope of work of that project.
Their own flag bearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, said the Kasoa Interchange was overpriced. A Member of Parliament from his own party came out and said he did not know what he was talking about because he did not know the scope of the project.
His thinking of Kasoa Interchange is that it is just a bridge. Kasoa Interchange is made up of three bridges. There is a main interchange and then two bridges to enable the people of East Kasoa and West Kasoa cross to the other halves of the city.
So if you hear an Interchange and you just look at the price without being a quantity surveyor, you are not an engineer, you are just a lawyer, you come out and say that it is overpriced, on what basis are you making your judgement?
The Kasoa Interchange includes 20 kilometres of inner city roads within Kasoa town. We felt, ‘don’t just build an interchange; let it also have an impact on the people.’ Therefore, we are building 20 kilometres of asphalt roads within the Ga South district. We are building a brand new polyclinic with a complete Accident and Trauma Centre, so when people have accidents on the road, the nearest hospitals are Korle Bu in Accra and Winneba.
By the time you rush anyone there, some of them would have died. So we said it would be useful to have that polyclinic. It also includes three millennium schools while 20 communities in Ga South district are getting clean drinking water as part of the interchange. And so, without looking at the scope, you say the project is overpriced?
This kind of propaganda has become the sing-song of the opposition because they cannot fault the massive social infrastructural interventions we are making, they cannot fault the amount of work that is going on all over the country, they have nothing to say but spill lies.
I am sure that real Ghanaians who are benefitting from these our interventions know the truth and cannot be deceived by empty words or comments that have no facts.
It has become a political strategy of the opposition to counter everything being done by alleging that everything is inflated.
Most of these works are being done by tender. And I have given a directive that where a tender is not held or it is not possible to hold the tender, there should be a value-for-money audit conducted. These projects are subjected to value-for-money audits.
There are some projects that you necessarily must sole-source because the money came from a certain country and they expect that contractor who sourced the funds would have to execute the job. And to ensure the people are not short-changed, we insist that we do value-for-money [audit]. Crown Agents is the one that does the value-for-money audit.
The Ridge Hospital is one of those projects that he (Akufo-Addo) openly said was overpriced.
The Ridge Hospital is one of those projects that went for value-for-money [audit] and the value- for-money saved us $40 million. The Crown Agents said that we could apply the $40 million on additional expansion work on the Ridge Hospital, and, so, the scope of the hospital was expanded because of the value-for-money that was undertaken, and yet you point at the $40 million and say it was an inflated contract. You see my point?
And he said they built roads at $300 million. I don’t know where he got that figure from and that we are building roads at more than $1 million per kilometre. Every road has its own scope and that is why you do the design.
There will be marshy areas where you have to scoop out all the clay and marsh and dump some rocks there. And so if you are doing a kilometre of road over land like that, it will be far more expensive than a kilometre of road over rocks, so no two roads are comparable.
Roads have different specifications – you can ask them to use asphalt of a certain thickness because you do not have articulated trucks running on that road. There are other roads you ask for higher thickness because the load on the road is heavier.
If you are working on this road in front of my house, the asphalt thickness would be like this (demonstrates), very thin, because no heavy truck comes down this road, but if I am doing a highway, then I need to raise the asphalt to a very high thickness. So if you say, comparatively, roads were cheaper in this time than that time, what is the basis for such comparison?
Every road depends on design and conditions over which the road is crossing. Is it an existing road? That means it has a base already. Or is it a virgin road – in which case you are cutting a new road, carving it out, which will entail clearing the forest and cutting the road through. So it is difficult to understand his statement.
I have challenged him (Akufo-Addo) to a debate, I have said bring all these points you are raising one by one and let us have a debate. Let me and you debate to the Ghanaian public about the points you are raising; inflation, infrastructure and things. But he has run away.
Ovation: (Cuts in) But the story is that you are the one running from a debate
How can I run from a debate? I want a productive debate, one-on-one with Nana Akufo-Addo. What they are talking about is the IEA. I want a debate on all the contentious issues he has raised. And I will respond and Ghanaians will be the judge.