A chunk of all funds owed road contractors will be paid before the year ends, Minister of Roads and Highways Kwasi Amoako-Attah has promised.
Addressing a gathering at the 2022 Nine Lessons and Carols of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) organised in collaboration with his ministry, Mr Amoako-Attah said: “Contractors of this country are doing a yeoman’s job despite all the difficulties, and I want to assure them that government will continue to work in their interest and all their outstanding payments from now onwards will be done from time to time”.
He then promised: “A chunk of outstanding [payments] are going to be effected before the end of the year and it will continue”.
Mr Amoako-Attah also appealed to residents in areas with roads yet to be fixed to exercise patience with the government.
“The people deserve to have good roads. I appeal to all those who haven’t had their turn to be patient and calm,” he said.
About three weeks ago, the minister said Ghanaians pay the lowest tolls in the whole world but want good and excellent roads.
Juxtaposing the situation abroad to Ghana’s when he spoke to the media in a recent interview, the Atiwa West MP said there are good roads in those parts of the world because the citizens pay “expensive tolls”.
Before the payment of road tolls was suspended in November 2021 following the reading of the 2022 budget in the dying embers of that same year, in the hope that its replacement with the controversial e-levy would rake in more for road construction, Mr Amoako-Attah said: “In a whole year, we were getting an average of GHS780 million”.
“If you deduct salaries and whatever from it, how much is left?” he asked.
Answering his own question, the MP said: “Depending upon the ground condition, that amount of money cannot even build 10 km of road”.
During that dispensation, he said small cars paid GHp50 while SUVs paid GHS1 as road tolls.
In his view, “if all of us had contributed to the e-levy, it would have brought in a lot of money to replace the original tollbooths for ourselves”.
Mr Amoako-Attah hinted at a return of the payment of road tolls, saying: “Certain highways, when built to the right specification, will come with tolling facilities but those tolling facilities will be electronic tolling facilities; it won’t come like the form we used to have in the past where people were in a queue for a very long time”.
The electronic system, according to him, is meant to reduce the gridlock created at toll booths.
“If they [drivers] have to be in a queue for two, three, four hours and you get there and you pay GHp50”.
He said: “Ghana was paying the lowest toll in the whole world”.
“I challenge anybody who can tell me any country which was paying tolls lower than Ghana”, he dared.
The minister stressed: “We were paying the lowest toll in the whole world, meanwhile, we want excellent, good roads in our country and rightly so; every Ghanaian, including you and me, yes, we want good things; we must be prepared to pay for [them]”.
In this regard, he noted: “Tolls, if they are to come back gradually, one way or the other, it will come in a different form”.
“We will no longer be paying GHp50 and the GHS1, no”, he explained.
Buttressing his point about paying more for roads, Mr Amoako-Attah said: “If you travel abroad, tolls [are] very expensive”.
“Tolls are very expensive abroad that is why and that is how come they are able to build good roads”, he argued.
He said despite the suspension of road toll payment for the past one year, “tolls have not been cancelled or abolished; no”, adding: “The law is still there”.
The 2023 budget announced the reintroduction of the toll payment.
“The fiscal policy measures to underpin the 2023 Budget for consideration and approval by parliament include the reintroduction of tolls on selected public roads and highways with a renewed focus on leveraging technology in the collection to address the inefficiencies characterised by the previous toll collection regime,” Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta stated in paragraph 462 of the budget that got approved recently by parliament.