By Nana Akua Tweneboah-Koduah
Even though the infrastructure base of the country continues to be on the radar due to increasing population growth and the non-maintenance culture that has become the bane of Ghanaians since independence, we still have not done much to expand our basic infrastructure to cover a lot of grass in Ghana. That is why we see multiple infrastructure shortfalls in every region of the country.
Talking about inadequate infrastructure base rightly brings to mind some of the terrible roads in our food growing areas of the country that annually prevent food from reaching buying centres and thereby robbing farmers of their much needed income. In 2013 alone Ghana spent over 1.3 billion dollars on food importation, a lot of hard earned cash that could have supported the country’s agriculture base to help feed the country.
We have infrastructure deficits also in the transport sector, energy, water, housing and communication among others. That is why it is gratifying that following the presentation of the 2014 Budget Estimates, President Mahama moved to set up an Advisory team headed by Mr Ato Ahwoi to lead in the operationalization of the Ghana Infrastructure Fund.
In his State of the Nation address, President John Mahama noted, “In order to sustain and enhance our projected rate of growth over the long term, it is absolutely necessary that we develop and expand our infrastructure to support expanded economic activity and to guarantee rapid socioeconomic development”.
According to President Mahama, current estimates indicate an annual funding gap of about 4 billion cedis if Ghana can effectively tackle her infrastructure challenges and expand them as a catalyst for growth.
To the credit of President Mahama, his government undertook critical maintenance work on a total of 15,405-kilometer of trunk, urban and feeder roads in 2013. Today we have the Kwame Nkrumah Circle project that is aimed at transforming circle into a three-tier interchange to eliminate human and vehicular congestion on-going.
The government is also on schedule to complete the 147-kilometer Fufulso-Sawla Road in the Northern Region which is set to increase economic activity in the area and boost tourism at the Mole Game Reserve.
Just last month, the President commissioned the 60-kilometer Anwia-Nkwanta-Assin Praso road which has been reconstructed with a new bridge spanning River Pra.
Other important road projects undertaken in 2013 include Tarkwa-Ayanful-Bogoso, sectional repairs on Tarkwa-Prestea road, Nsawam By-Pass, Kwafokrom-Apedwa, Techiman-Kintampo, Buipe-Tamale, the Eastern Corridor Road which consist of Asikuma Junction-Kpever, Dodo-Pepesu to Nkwanta and Nkwanta-Oti Damanko.
The Coastal Corridor Road which benefitted in 2013 include the Aflao-Abgozume-Akatsi and Agona Junction to Elubo. Other road projects tackled in 2013 were the Giffard and Burma Camp Roads, Awoshie-Pokuase Road and the 25km Kasoa By-Pass. Roads in towns like Sekondi-Takoradi, Nyakrom, Gwolu, Bole, Manfi-Kumasi, Kpetoe, Moree, Old Tafo and Fomena-Anyasi also saw resurfacing.
In the transport sector, a well-coordinated infrastructure expansion work has commenced at the Tema and Takoradi harbours to enhance port business while targeting the landlocked neighbouring countries, larger vessels and the oil and gas sector.
The Kotoka International Airport is also seeing some rehabilitation and expansion. Already work on the parking apron for wide-bodied aircraft has been completed. The government is set to start a third terminal at the Kotoka Airport. The runway at the Kumasi Airport is being resurfaced and work is expected to be completed within the next few months.
Plans are also in the works for the construction of a new rail line to link the Tema to Takoradi ports and to the Boankra Inland Port to attract interest and revenue generating activities from landlocked neighbouring countries. The new rail line when complete will no doubt help in speeding up the rate at which goods are sent to the Northern sector and neighbouring countries.
The energy crisis that engulfed Ghana in 2013 was so painful that it forced the government to add a total of 534 megawatts of power generation to mitigate the crisis. Today Ghana has 2,845 megawatts of power generation. Because the country still has severe shortfalls in power supply, arrangements are advanced for some Independent Power Producers to commence the construction of new power plants in Ghana this year.
The power transmission system is also being improved to develop non-congestion, modern and efficient transmission system in Ghana by 2015. To this end, the government completed the Kintampo sub-station in 2013 with the view to ensuring the power migration from the Bui Hydroelectric Dam and also to improve transmission of power to Kintampo and its environs.
Urban water coverage in Ghana now stands at 63% while the rural water coverage stands at 64%. To arrest the deficit especially in the urban areas, the government intends to improve the situation to cover 85% by 2015. Four key water projects namely the Kpong Water Supply Expansion Project, Kpong Intake Rehabilitation Project, Accra-Tema Metropolitan Area Supply Project and Teshie Nungua Desalination Water Project are all on-going to end the water starvation in Adenta, Haasto, Agbogba and Madina among others.
In 2013 the government undertook a number of water projects to help the rural dwellers. The Damanko-Kpassa Water Supply Project, which is one of the projects, will serve about 600,000 people in 13 communities in the Nkwanta North District of the Volta Region. The COCOBOD borehole project also benefitted over 300,000 people with the sinking of over 1,000 boreholes in 2013.
It is estimated that the housing deficit in Ghana is 1.7 million housing units. To close this gap the government has started a 5,000 out of a 9,120 housing unit project at Ningo in the Greater Accra Region. There is another set of 15,000 affordable housing units to be constructed over the next five years in Nsakina, Odumase, Kpone and Borteyman.
To avoid a 100% government financed project, President Mahama is tackling the housing projects with private sector participation. Plans are also in place for the government to complete projects like the housing units at Borteyman, Adorer-Mampong in Kumasi, Koforidua, Wa and Tamale, which were abandoned by the Kufuor government.
Ghana can even do better if we make the conscious effort to adopt a maintenance culture. When we see new roads, new houses and other new infrastructure we all tend to be happy. But it does not take long to see our hard earned cash that went into those major projects go waste as serious maintenance defects begin to emerge. When those situations occur, we hardly hear Ghanaians raising alarm as everybody turns his/her head away and see those projects go rot.
This culture is killing Ghana and if we want to move forward as a nation we must all become keepers of this country. It does not help to shout on top of your voice about things we do not have, but we must also learn to shout on top of our voice when we see those projects going waste.