Akufo-Addo’s comparison of costs of interchanges inconsistent, misleading

On July 9, 2021, President Akufo-Addo commissioned the four-tier Pokuase Interchange in Accra. In his address at the ceremony, he compared the cost of some interchanges constructed by his administration with an interchange completed under the erstwhile John Mahama administration.

The President made the comparison suggesting that his government is more efficient in managing the public purse.

“Indeed, $289 million has been used by the Akufo-Addo government to construct three interchanges (at Pokuase, Obetsebi Lamptey, and Tamale) as opposed to $260 million used by the Mahama government to construct only the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange. These are further examples of the fact that we in the NPP are good protectors of the public purse,” President Akufo-Addo said.

The President’s comparison has occasioned debates on social media with many tagging Fact-Check Ghana to verify the claim.

Fact-Check Ghana has looked into the claim and concludes that the comparison is misleading and inconsistent with a similar claim made by the government on the same issue.

Inconsistency in Dr Bawumia and Akufo-Addo’s claims on the same issue

President Akufo-Addo’s comparison is not the first time the incumbent government has compared the cost of the Kwame Nkrumah interchange with the costs of others interchanges.

On Tuesday, August 19, 2020, Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia compared the cost of the Kwame Nkrumah interchange with four other interchanges being constructed by the government. He said this during a presentation highlighting the infrastructural projects undertaken by the Akufo-Addo-led government at a town hall meeting

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is important to note that the cost of the Tema, Pokuase, Tamale, and Obetsebi Lamptey interchanges total $289 million while the Kwame Nkrumah interchange was constructed at a cost of $260 million,” Bawumia said.

Thus, Dr Bawumia said the four interchanges amounted to a total of $289 million.

Meanwhile, when President Akufo-Addo repeated the claim at the commissioning of the Pokuase Interchange, he omitted one of the interchanges—the Tema Interchange—but still maintained the total cost at $289 million.

At the infrastructure town hall meeting in 2020, Bawumia said the cost of 4 interchanges amounted to $289 million, Akufo-Addo said three interchanges amounted to $ 289 million last week | Photo: Bawumia’s Facebook page

                               Cost and scope of work of the Interchanges

The team also looked at the cost and scope of work for the four interchanges – Pokuase, Tamale and Obetsebi Lamptey and Kwame Nkrumah- President Akufo-Addo referred to. Below are the details:

Pokuase Interchange: In 2016, Parliament approved an African Development Bank (AfDB) loan facility of $83 million to construct a three-tier interchange. The approval also included the addition of a counterpart funding of $11.1 million by the Government of Ghana (GoG) which would put the total cost of the project at about $94 million.

In 2019, the project, a part of the Ministry of Roads and Highways’ “Accra Urban Transport Projects” (AUTP),  was redesigned and renegotiated from three-tier to four-tier. According to the government, this occurred after a “value for money” assessment of the design of the project. The project was supervised by the Associated Consultants Limited and Bigen Group while Zhongmei Engineering Group constructed it.

The scope of work for the project comprised the construction of a four-tier stack interchange at Pokuase and the construction of storm Drains. It also included the construction of 10km of local roads, 6.6km of Awoshie-Pokuase-Kwabenya road, the widening of 2.0km of Accra-Kumasi road, provision of pedestrian facilities including walkways, footbridges, signalized crossings, streetlights and free health screening exercises for communities within the project catchment.

Tamale Interchange: In December 2018, Parliament approved the first tranch of $646 million commercial agreement between the government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Roads and Highways, and the Synohydro Corporation Limited. The agreement, called the $2 billion Government of Ghana-SinoHydro Master Project Support Agreement (MPSA), was for the construction of ten road projects including the Accra Inner-city roads, Kumasi Inner-city roads and the Tamale Interchange, which is lot 3 of the agreement.

President Akufo-Addo launched the $2 billion Government of Ghana-SinoHydro Master Project Support Agreement (MPSA) and cut the sod for the construction of the Tamale Interchange on April 10, 2019. The cost of the Tamale Interchange according to a report by the Roads and Transport Committee of Parliament was $46.4 million. The cost included deferred payments under the project.

The scope of work according to the report included the construction of bridge/ramps and slip roads and a carriageway of a width of 7 meters with a 2×2 number of lanes.

Obetsebi Lamptey Interchange: In October 2019, President Akufo-Addo cut the sod for the construction of the three-tier Obetsebi Lamptey Interchange. The project is being undertaken by M/S Queiroz Galvao-UK International as a design and build contract. It was secured with Export Credit Facilities from the United Kingdom and Spain amounting to $135 million.

The construction of the Obetsebi Lamptey Interchange is in two phases: Phase 1 consists of the construction of the East-West flyover and other related works and phase 2 involves the construction of the third tier flyover on the Ring Road West.

According to the Ministry of Roads and Highway, the ground level will have a re-modelled roundabout whilst the second-tier will be an East to West flyover linking the Graphic Road to the Kanashie-Mallam road. The third tier will be a North to South flyover on the Ring Road West, which will link the Ring Road from the Royal Chapel Church to the Central Mosque at Abossey Okai.

Kwame Nkrumah Interchange: The project is a fusion of two major projects: the construction of the interchange and the Ring Road flyover.

In August 2012, Parliament approved a credit agreement between the government of Ghana and PNB Paribas of Paris, France, a mandated lead arranger, and the Queiroz Galvao Construcao of Rio de Janeiro, under a Brazilian Official Equalisation Programme (PROTEX). The loan which was €74.8 million ($90 million) was to finance the engineering, design and construction of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange.

The scope of the project covered a detailed engineering design; construction of the interchange; construction of a road-over-rail bridge; widening of the Odaw Bridge; improvement of the intersection of the Ring Road at Feo Eyeo Road; improvement of road drainage works; provision of pedestrian and recycling facilities among others.

Two years after approving the first agreement, Parliament, in October 2014, approved another credit facility between the government of Ghana and Construtora Queiroz Galvao for the design and construction of Ring Road flyover for $170 million. According to a report by the Roads and Transport Committee of Parliament, the project was to “complement the current construction at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in providing solution for the complex interaction of traffic and pedestrian movement in the project area.”

According to the report, the scope of work comprised the following:

Interchange Cost ($) Interchange Cost ($)
Pokuase 94 million Kwame Nkrumah Interchange (Interchange and Ring Road Flyover) 260 million
Tamale 46.4 million
Obetsebi Lamptey 135 million
Total 275.4 million Total 260 million

                                         Verdict: Misleading

The summation of the cost of the three interchanges (Pokuase, Tamale and Obetsebi Lamptey) President Akufo-Addo referred to amounts to $275.4 million. This is even lower than the $289 million the president quoted.

However, making a judgement on value for money just on the costs of the projects is misleading as that does not take into consideration the scope of work of the projects. In the case of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, it was a fusion of two major projects.

Further, Fact-Check Ghana spoke with a Road and Building Consultant, Ing. Mahama Abdulai, who said making such comparisons is deceptive.

“You cannot compare even 1 kilometre stretch of a road to another kilometre stretch of a road at different locations. It is deceptive,” he said.

He explained that a lot of components contribute to making up the cost of projects. Some of these components include the quality of material being used for the project, the location of the project which will determine haulage cost and even the type of soil at the project, he said.

“Let’s take for instance we are doing an interchange construction at the Post Office area in Accra and Tesano, and there’s about 6 km between the two locations. If you are building in Tesano and you have to buy chippings in Nsawam which, let’s say, is 20 km. I, who’s building at Post Office, will cover 26 km to buy the chippings in Nsawam. Even when the cost of the chippings is constant, assuming I am buying 1 million cubics of chippings and the cost difference in transporting is 4 cedis. Multiply 4 cedis by 1 million and see. So, it cant be proper[to just compare the prices],” Ing. Abdulai said.

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