The Minister designate for Roads and Highways, Mr Kwasi Amoako-Attah, says the road arrears of the Ghana Highways Authority, Feeder Roads and Urban Roads as of December 31, 2016 stood at GH¢17 billion. Out of the arrears, he said, GH¢900 million certificates "are ready, gathering dust at the Ministry of Finance". He said the arrears were frightening in view of the fact that the Road Fund was able to generate only GH¢1.2 billion per annum, a development which had left a huge funding gap. Answering questions during his vetting by the Appointments Committee of Parliament (ACP) in Accra yesterday, Mr Amoako-Attah said in view of the huge indebtedness and revenue accrued to the Road Fund, there was the need for the government to take innovative means to raise funds to support the road sector. He gave an assurance that the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) would continue all road projects initiated by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government for the benefit of the people. “It was taxpayers' money that was used for the projects, which should not be wasted. Any project started must continue to benefit the people of this country. Unless there are good reasons, there is no reason why projects should be discontinued," he said. Mr Amoako-Attah said the NPP manifesto described the behaviour where successive governments discontinued projects as scandalous, while the 1992 Constitution indicated that the government was a continuum, which implied that projects started by previous governments should be continued. Mr Amoako-Attah, a legal practitioner, has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Atiwa West since November, 2010. Feeder/cocoa roads He said the Ministry of Roads and Highways, under his leadership, would focus on developing feeder roads, noting that only 23 per cent out of the 72,329 kilometres of feeder roads in the country were in good condition. Therefore, he said, the ministry would use the Roads Fund "to put the feeder roads into good shape to bring foodstuffs locked up in the hinterlands to the urban centres. Mr Amoako-Attah said only four out of the 35 toll booths in the country were automated, and indicated that he would take steps to automate as many of the other toll booths as possible. He said he would ensure that all future contracts of companies manning toll booths engaged not less than 50 per cent physically challenged persons. He promised to collaborate with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to identify and develop cocoa roads. Minister designate for Communications Taking her turn at the ACP, the Minister designate for Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said the government was developing a child online policy to protect children against abuses of online or Internet usage. She said the policy was crucial to save children from unwholesome use of the media. “The Internet is used for research purposes and accessing news but some use it for other purposes, which may affect their attitude and academic performance,” he said. Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said another consideration was to create a situation where new mothers would be allowed to work from home through the use of technology. She said the government wanted to allow women to work while taking care of their children. The aim, she said, was to make it possible for mothers to cater for their children in their formative years instead of leaving the children in the care of maids. Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the Ministry of Communications would work towards meeting the September, 2017 deadline for migration from analogue to digital, adding that the government would look for funding to support people with digital boxes to aid their migration. National Data System The Communications Minister designate said the ministry would spearhead the national identification project to enhance identification and processing of documents. For instance, she said, it should be possible for people to secure passports with the click of a button and pay electronically. Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said all government employees might start using the government portal to send emails. That, she said, was to enhance security of public information and institutional memory. The minister designate said the ministry would liaise with the Minister of the Interior to see how to leverage technology to enhance national security. That would include the consideration of the use of the CCTV. Reliable telephone service Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said when given the nod, the Ministry of Communications would have discussion with the National Communications Authority (NCA) to see what better protection the authority could offer to the consumer, regarding interruptions in telecommunication services. She said market forces would force the telecommunication companies to keep their customers happy. Minister designate for Water Resources and Sanitation The Minister designate for Water Resources and Sanitation, Mr Kofi Adda, said the government would mobilise funds and technical expertise to improve sanitation and water in the country. "The goal is to marshal resources and political will to extend water to everybody as much as possible," he said. Mr Adda expressed worry over open defecation, and indicated that steps would be taken to deal with the menace. He said the government would push for a programme for every household to have a toilet facility. Mr Adda said the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation would ensure that there was discipline in the system by ensuring compliance to sanitation regulations.
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