27 July 2017

Locals Untrustworthy, Foreigners To Get Gov’t Projects – Atta-Akyea

Priority will be given to foreign engineers on key government projects because of the inability of local engineers execute projects to the required qualitative standards, the Minister of Works and Housing, Samuel Atta-Akyea has said.

The Minister had some harsh words for local engineers as he intimated that they were preoccupied with making money, as opposed to ensuring lasting projects.

On the other hand, he noted that foreign contractors were preferred “because they have distinguished themselves.”

Mr. Atta-Akyea made these remarks at the Engineering Council as part of a one day working tour, where he acknowledged the need for local content and Ghanaian involvement in key projects.

“…after all, you go and bring engineers from Israel to do a major project here and you are enriching the Israelis,” the Minister noted.

“But there is a problem,” he added. “If you hire Ghanaian engineers, they wouldn’t want to do the work right. They cut corners, they inflate figures.”

“For the engineer, who is outside, it is a legacy, so that your name is permanently written… but for the Ghanaian engineer, it’s not like that. He is trying to look at situations to make good money and leaving us a shoddy job,” the minister added.

Mr. Atta-Akyea also urged engineers to increase their capacity to generate income, explaining that “the reason why we are saying this is that the national kitty is challenged – one of the things economists wouldn’t want us to say, but that is the fact of the matter.”

Complaints from locals

The minister’s comments are unlikely to sit well with some local engineers and contractors who have previously expressed some discontent with the government’s keenness to award contracts to foreign companies or expatriates

In March 2017, the umbrella body of local road contractors, the Progressive Road Contractors Association (PROCA), called on the government to stop the practice of awarding contracts to foreign companies.

It complained that they often lose out on these contracts, especially to Chinese firms. According to the Association’s Vice President, Hammond Larbie, this was pushing them out of business.

Mr. Larbie holds the view that the situation is stifling the capacities of local contractors from flourishing.

Local contractors have consistently complained about the lack of government financial commitment towards them with a notable instance seeing scores of contractors in January 2017, besiege the residence of then-President John Dramani Mahama, demanding payment for projects they executed for the government of Ghana.

According to the contractors, their services were employed for the construction of a number of Community Day Senior High Schools but they have not received payments which had been in arrears for the previous eight months.

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