Audit of school buildings laughable; just pay us

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Education

Members of the Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors of Ghana are unfazed by government’s decision to audit all schools built by the association over suspicion that some of the contract sums were bloated.

The contractors had threatened to shut down schools they built by June 26, 2019, if monies owed them by government are not paid.

The Ministry of Education subsequently said the contractors had no right to lock down the schools which are said to be currently in use.

The Ministry also said government will audit the said projects to validate to ascertain whether there was value for money.

“It doesn’t lie within the right of the contractors to say that they are going to close down schools. Schools that have been built for and on behalf of the government remains the property of the government.”

“The Ministry of Education through GETFund is currently embarking on an audit at GETFund to validate quite a number of these contracts. We believe that per the data available to us and some investigation, it is clear that we need to validate these contracts. Some of the contracts did not go through the laid down procedure for awarding contracts others were also non-existing. So it is not like an intentional approach by the government not to pay these contractors,” head of Public Relations at the Education Ministry, Vincent Ekow Assafuah said in a Citi News interview.

But the contractors say,  they will go ahead and lock up the schools despite the contrary claims by the Ministry.

Speaking to Citi News, Executive Member of the Association, Richard Nyarko said the action is to put the necessary pressure on the government to pay their monies.

“We have used our money to work for the government. The government said, if you work for us, we will pay you in 90 days. It did not do that and we are heading to about 900 days without payment. Let’s talk about what is ethical and moral. What the government is doing is not ethical. It is non-Ghanaian and against what we believe in as Ghanaians.  Desperate moments call for desperate action. We will see what happens when we lock up the schools.”

Touching on the alleged audit of contracts by the ministry, Mr. Nyarko said, it was just a cheap way for the government to run away from the substantive matter since a similar exercise was conducted two years ago.

“They told us the same story in 2017.  The list of 766 projects we are working with are certified. They went to all sites and conducted all the audits. So if they are now bringing it up for non-payment, then that is just an excuse and laughable. The government gave us the contract and it should have supervised us. If they didn’t inspect the work, they cannot blame us for the wrong thing.”

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