‘To do what?’ – Road contractors reply government’s return-to-site order
Road contractors across the country have rejected a directive from the government asking them to return to project sites they abandoned due to delays in the release of payments.
This follows an announcement by the roads minister that the finance ministry had released some ¢800 million to be given to contractors whose payment was in arrears.
Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways, Stephen Pambiin Jalulah, addressed chiefs and people of the Anyaa-Sowutuom Constituency said some of the contractors had failed to show up at the project sites despite the payment of monies owed them.
But reacting to this claim, National Vice Chairman of the Association of Road Contractors Ghana, Stephen Atatsi, revealed no monies had been paid to any contractor.
He added that none of their members have been engaged along the lines of possible payment any time soon.
“¢800 million they paid to whom? They should come out with the contractors they have paid the money to. So it is never true”, he retorted.
He further explained, “We have categories in the construction business. We have the small-scale people who de-silt the gutters and cut the grass and those other small jobs. So if it is those people they have paid, let them say it and let the public know”.
Even though the Deputy Roads Minister admitted that the progress of major road projects which started earlier in 2020 had stalled due to the delay in payment of contractors, the inauguration of the road fund board, and the subsequent release of the ¢800 million by government, meant that work was to pick up again.
“From the beginning of the year, payment to contractors was not forthcoming. But as we speak now, the government is paying and for that matter, the road fund board has been set up about one month ago and has also started payment to contractors,” he added.
He said, “All the contractors who have left the site due to nonpayment should be back to site any moment from now.
“And let me add that if any contractor doesn’t come to the site after receiving payment, the engineers within the urban roads will write them warning letter, and if they fail to come, their contracts will be terminated”.
When asked whether the contractors will return to work based on the account by the Deputy Minister, Mr Atatsi asked, “to do what?”
“I have given you a bill, and you have accepted the bill, but you are not doing what is expected. Look, even one activity is worth more than that ¢800 million they are talking about. Do you know how much one kilometre of bitumen costs?” he quizzed.