Kumasi Mayor: Construction on Kumasi Airport, Kejetia Phase II stopped over Debt Exchange Plan.
The government is likely to miss deadlines for completion of critical projects in Kumasi as it suspends all international contracts because of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme.
This means that work on Kumasi International Airport, phase two of Kejetia Market and the over 44-year-old maternity block at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital is likely to suffer delays.
The Mayor of Kumasi, Samuel Pyne, who confirmed this development on the Asaase Breakfast Show on Friday (10 March), said the decision affects other important projects across the country as the government works to secure a US$3 billion loan facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“As part of the government’s debt restructuring exercise some contractual agreements needed to be suspended, which included these international contracts,” Pyne said.
“It’s not only the Kejetia Market; here you have the airport and the Maternity and Children’s Block at the KATH … Some of these projects, even including parts of the Sinohydro projects, are on hold now until an agreement with the IMF.”
Media reports have been rife that the construction firm executing the project, Contracta, had to dismiss over 1,500 casual workers on the Kejetia Market Phase II project. The reports pointed to the directive to suspend work on major projects.
The mayor, however, jumped to the company’s defence and further clarified that it took the action because the affected workers’ services were no longer needed.
Mayor Pyne explained: “When you go to the Kejetia Market, they are now doing steel works, they are not doing concrete works, so it doesn’t make economic sense to keep concrete workers on site and pay them for no work.
“You go to the airport, they have a similar situation. So this is part of cutting down operational costs.”
He gave the assurance that work on the suspended projects will resume when the government completes the IMF negotiations.
“I know that when they are done with it [the IMF deal] we are going to continue with the project. Even though we still have some staff on site, my fear is that if we are to get it completed by February 2024, it may be moved to March or April 2024,” Pyne said.
Touching on the impasse between traders and managers over the installation of meters at Kejetia Market, the mayor said the metropolitan assembly has taken delivery of about 3,000 meters to respond to the situation.
“The technical team have been to the market to look at the separation of the lines and we’ve taken delivery of the first tranche of about 3,000 meters to start work with.
“When work resumes (and they are on course), then the rest will be provided after the work has started. We have given ourselves about three months for completion of the work for the individual meters,” Pyne said.
Traders have been agitating for separate meters to reduce their electricity bills, which they describe as high.
The traders’ decision to halt payment of electricity bills forced the Electricity Company of Ghana to cut power supply to the trading hub over a GHC5 million debt. It took the intervention of the Minister of Local Government to get power restored.