US$50 million judgment debt looms – over govt’s arbitrarily termination of management system contract

The Ranking Member on the Road and Transport Committee of Parliament and Member of Parliament (MP) for Adaklu in the Volta Region, is warning of a looming US$50 million judgment debt over the arbitrarily abrogation of the Accra Intelligent Traffic Management System contract.

Addressing the press, Obed Governs Agbodza, urged the government to take steps to avert the impending financial loss to the state.

The MP, who has been at the forefront, warning the country about the Akufo-Addo government’s decision to re-award contract has warned the government to “tread cautiously with whatever you have done with this particular contract because my information is that you are heading towards payment of a judgment debt of almost $50 million.”

Aside from this, Mr Agbodza, expects the government to bear even more costs, if the situation is not handled well.

“That $50 million would not include the actual cost, which is another $100 million and a further $25 million tax waiver that we have granted Huawei,” he explained.

He noted further that “Ghanaians are not going to be happy with the circumstances which we are in financially. That could be at the peak of recklessness on the part of the Akufo-Addo government.”

In 2020, the contract for the project was terminated with Beijing Everyway and re-awarded to Huawei under the supervision of the National Security Ministry.

Beijing Everyway, is currently at the London Court of International Arbitration seeking redress for the termination of the contract.

In November 2020, Parliament had approved a $100-million loan agreement between the government and the China Development Bank (CDB).

The loan was to go into financing the Accra Metropolitan Area information technology-enhanced traffic management project.

The House also approved tax waivers and duties of $25.8 million on materials, equipment and services to be procured for the project.

The project is intended to help manage traffic, promote road safety and improve security in the country generally.

As part of the project, comprehensive traffic violation surveillance systems (e-Police) was be installed at important road intersections to capture traffic violations and integrate these with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority’s (DVLA’s) database, so that law enforcers can identify and apprehend traffic violators.

The system also comes with a video management system based on real-time recordings from surveillance cameras deployed by National Security and other state institutions.

Moving the motion for the House to adopt its report and approve the agreement and tax waiver request in Parliament, the then Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, said the government had made significant investments in information and communication technology (ICT), culminating in the establishment of the Integrated National Security Communications (Alpha) Network which was being installed in phases.

The network, he said, was already equipped with some critical elements, including closed circuit video surveillance (CCTV), automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and a National Emergency Command Centre and other control centres that were sitting with institutions such as the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Armed Forces, the intelligence agencies and the Department of Urban Roads.

“The network already constitute the basis upon which a traffic management and violation system will be developed,” Dr Assibey-Yeboah said.

The Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament said the Accra Metropolitan Area information technology-enhanced traffic management project would help enforce road safety and enhance security and intelligence, law enforcement and traffic management at no extra cost.

He said the previous vendor, Beijing Everyway Limited, had been replaced with Huawei Technologies Company.

He told the House that the Ministry of National Security undertook some background checks on Beijing Everyway Limited and came to the conclusion that the company lacked overseas experience to carry out the project.

“The company also lacked the needed manpower and experience to carry out projects of such nature. Further checks also revealed that the company was tainted with bribery allegations, with its founders facing prison sentences,” he added.

The Minority in Parliament, however, expressed objection to the agreement at a press conference outside the floor of the House.

The MP for Adaklu, said if Parliament approved the $100 million for the project “we may be setting this country up for judgement debt sooner or later.”

He described the decision by the government to terminate the earlier contract with Beijing Everyway Limited, as an illegality since the loan agreement for the contract was approved by Parliament on December 22, 2019, and had Beijing Everyway Limited as the named contractor for the project.

He said the President cut the sod for work to begin on the project on February 21, 2019 after which the company executed part of the project and an interim payment certificate, totalling $16 million, was raised and was waiting to be paid.

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