Ho, May 31, GNA- Urgent measures are needed to close the huge funding gap of the Ghana Road Fund to avert a much colossal road maintenance deficit and its dire consequences for the country.
This was the conclusion of participants at a public forum on “Financing Road Maintenance” in Ghana in Ho at the weekend.
Professor Mohammed Salifu, a member of the Ghana Road Fund Board indicated that the fund needs to rake in GH₵ 600 million every year for sustainable road maintenance but currently raises only GH₵ 250 million.
Prof Salifu said in 2014 GH₵ 225.61 million was budgeted for road maintenance as against an expenditure of GH₵ 490.99 million.
The 2015 road maintenance budget stands at GH₵ 267.890 million out of which GH₵ 55.033 million was paid as at 31 March with pending commitments standing at GH₵ 283.781 million.
He said unless the trend is halted the country would have to cough out between 8-10 times more to fix its road maintenance problem.
Prof Salifu said government would have to bite the bullet and review the fuel levy to at least 30 pesewas per litre to restore the value of the levy to the 2005 level which would have been “22 pesewas per litres a few months ago.”
He said an equivalent fuel levy would have to be extended to cover Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) given the fact that many vehicles have switched to the use of LPG thus avoiding the payment of the fuel levy.
The road tolling programme would have to be expanded to cover more roads and improve collection mechanisms through automation to reduce leakages.
Alhaji Inusah Feseini, Minister of Roads and Highways said the country’s ability in road maintenance stands at 60 per cent.
He said this was in-spite of the fact that revenue accruing to the road fund appreciated “consistently year on year from GH₵ 24.8 million in 2000 to GH₵ 265.04 million in 2014” with a projection of GH₵ 322.21 million in 2015.
This notwithstanding the fund carried over an indebtedness of GH₵ 230.86 million from 2014 into the current year, he said.
Alhaji Fuseini said government has been exploring long-term pre-financing of road maintenance works, including Public Private Partnership arrangements such as, Build, Operate and Transfer and Maintain, Operate and Transfer.
Alhaji Fuseini said the time has come for the country to “take the difficult but inevitable decision of raising sufficient funds to meet our road maintenance activities”.
Mr Daniel A. Agroh, Vice-President of the Association of Road Contractors said total earnings from Ghana’s Road Fund has been woefully inadequate compared with other African countries.
He said in 2014 Cote d’Ivoire earned 300 million dollars; Tanzania 463 million dollars and Kenya, 286 million dollars.
Mr Agroh said Zimbabwe’s “current toll rate is equivalent to 2.00 dollars.
He said in Tanzania fuel rate per litre stood at .015 cents, South Africa 23 cents, Cote d’Ivoire CFA 20.00 for diesel and CFA 70.00 for petrol.
“The implications of these indicators are that if our national development agenda is to remain on course then it is important for us as a people to take bold steps in addressing the shortfall,” Mr Agroh said.