The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in charge of Cocoa Affairs, Kennedy Osei Nyarko says the erstwhile NDC government failed to adhere to laid down procedures towards awarding of contracts for the construction of cocoa roads in the country.
Kennedy Osei Nyarko said the failure of the former government to follow these procedures resulted in them awarding contracts to the tune of ¢5.16 billion when it had budgeted only ¢1.64 billion.
Even roads that were contracted by the erstwhile administration did not last, said the Honourable Osei Nyarko.
These reactions from the deputy agric minister stemmed from complaints from affected farmers of bad roads leading into the country’s cocoa farms which they say ‘could lead you to hell.’
Thick mud makes mini tidal waves in the wide gullies sprawled along the several kilometers of feeder roads in cocoa growing districts while another layer of needless adventure for the drivers who have to use these roads to cart men and materials, pregnant women and farm produce.
The threat is leaving farmers with the grim prospect of having their cocoa beans locked up in the belly of the cocoa growing areas.
In the Western region alone, some 5,000 bags of cocoa beans were trapped in the Amenfi West district in 2017. If you do the calculation of a cost of a bag of cocoa, it is the same as saying ¢2.37m was trapped there because of deplorable roads.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has been making investments in constructing roads in cocoa-growing areas. Known as cocoa roads, funds are set aside each year to build roads that fit the economic potential of the region.
But these initiatives have been dogged by a mixture of politics and mismanagement. As at June 2017, works on the roads had been halted.
COCOBOD has complained of what its Chief Executive Officer Joseph Aidoo called ‘ghost roads’.
He said he came to office in Febuary 2017 to find out that the former government had awarded contracts to the tune of ¢5.16 billion when it had budgeted only ¢1.64 billion.
The claim was not without reply from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which also accused the government of neglecting 230 cocoa roads and failing to earmark funds for its construction in the COCOBOD budget for 2017/2018.