Are we serious as a nation?

Infrastructure is a high priority for government, citizens and donors alike on account of its crucial role in achieving socio-economic development for the country. Unfinished infrastructural projects are a common sight in most part of the country and the situation is, indeed, disturbing.
It is highly frustrating and puzzling to see much needed infrastructure development projects abandoned mid-construction. In this country, research indicates that about one-third of projects started in previous regimes where never completed and that consumed about 20 per cent of all local government expenditure. Some of these abandoned projects which include, school buildings, hospitals and clinics, silos, warehouses, community centres, roads, pipe borne water among others, have been left at the mercy of the weather to rot.
This unfavourable situation can be attributed to local political actors not being able to agree on where projects should be sited and the inability to maintain consistent expenditure priorities which lead projects to be abandoned mid- construction.
The unpalatable news about the proposed demolition of the 45-year-old maternity and baby unit building project at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi which was started in 1976 and was stalled in 1979 but later reactivated by the late former President Jerry John Rawlings is a good topic for discussion.
The structure, meant to accommodate 750-bed including lecture halls, restaurant, operation theatres among others, has been found to be too weak to accommodate all the equipment and the number of people expected to use the facility. Following a number of structural analysis conducted on the building, it has been recommended that it should be demolished for a new one to be built in its stead.
The project was handed over to the current contractors, Contracta UK Limited on May 15, 2020, by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo after he had cut the sod for the project to commence. The 155 million- euro project is to be financed from a Deutche Bank facility through the UK Export Finance. It was expected to be executed within 36 months. After a number of tests on the structural integrity of the building, it came out that the building had become too weak to accommodate the equipment and the anticipated human traffic and ,therefore, might not survive the test of time. The contractors proposed that the building should be pulled down for work to start afresh on the facility. Similar test conducted by the Ministry of Health also confirmed that the columns of the structure had become too old and weak while the concrete too had become brittle and the iron rods getting rusted.
The social cost of the non- completion of the project is very high as money spent on this project alone would be enough to tackle other projects such as school buildings to accommodate a large number of students across the country. This fiscal waste may have long-term developmental consequences.
It is disheartening and mind-boggling when projects started with the hard-earned foreign exchange and meant to serve the interest of the larger society are abandoned midway due to negative and unforeseen circumstances. It is a fact that negative and incoherent politics practised by successive governments have contributed in no small way to some of these project failures and abandonment.
Studies have also proved that contracts can be awarded to a contactor not because of a proven competence but on political lines. This normally leads to a shoddy work or inability to complete project due to ineptitude on the part of the contractor. The trend of a political party assuming incumbency only to focus on its own campaign promises, contributes to project failure and abandonment. It is also a fact that the nation lacks law enforcement and policies that check the government in power to continue and complete those uncompleted projects started by its predecessors. It is also a fact that the local people who happen to be the beneficiaries of these projects are not allowed to participate and develop interest in some of these projects.
This leads to alienation of the projects from the local beneficiaries since they are not allowed to partake and contribute their quota to the project and ,therefore, cannot monitor the stakeholders and the contactors working on the projects.
Most people assume that some of these unfinished projects are driven by corruption and are not finished because contractors give kickbacks to politicians or bureaucrats and then do not complete the work.
As being suggested in certain quarters, this country needs a national development plan devoid of partisan influence just like what persists in other developed nations to ensure that projects are not truncated when there is a change of government and leadership.
Countries that are making significant progress in their infrastructural developments are conscious of their developmental agenda by relying on continuity in projects started by previous administrations. This beautiful country called Ghana would have been paradise by now if our leaders approached development projects on the basis of continuity devoid of partisan interest and colorisation.
Indeed, the proposed demolition of the KATH maternity project will amount to a huge financial loss to the state which should have been avoided in the past.
Already, this country is saddled with a lot of financial problems which have greater effect on our economic progress, therefore, we do not want to burden ourselves with some of these financial losses which will deepen our woes.

By Charles Neequaye

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