By Iddi Yire/Elsie Appiah-Osei
Accra, March 14, GNA – The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Minority Caucus has urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to abrogate the contract for the ongoing National Cathedral construction project.
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the NDC Member of Parliament MP for North Tongu and Ranking Member for Parliament Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, addressing a press conference at Parliament House, said March 14th was exactly one year when the main contractors working on the National Cathedral Project abandoned site, stating in the termination letters they issued their staff that there were due to lack of payment from the Government of Ghana.
He noted that the main contractors indicated that they could no longer continue with the project and that they must mitigate the cost of the project based on the lack of payment from the 14th of March, 2022, exactly a year ago that they were no longer going to continue with the project.
“So, today is the first anniversary since the project stalled, what we are very worried about is that a year is enough time for the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who has declared this project his priority of priorities and those remaining on the National Cathedral Board of Directors, one year is enough time for them to realize that this project remains a castle in the air,” Mr Ablakwa said.
“It remains a pipe dream, it remains an unfeasible project, particularly considering our economic circumstances and so, it is time to close shop, it is time to abandon this project because it cannot be completed as scheduled.”
He noted that what was even more worrying to them as a Caucus in Parliament was that they had cited the contract between the Government of Ghana, the National Cathedral of Ghana and the main contractors, known as the Ribade Company Limited; adding that Ribade was a joint venture between Rizzani de Eccher, M. Barbisotti and Sons Ltd, and De Simone Ltd.
He said these three entities came together to form Ribade, the agreement they had cited was that as the project remained suspended, the already suffocating taxpayer was being burdened with more cost.
Mr Ablakwa said the contract document clearly stated that Ghana would have obligations, when there were standing time claims from the main contractor and when there was an abortive or a reworks cost due to the main contractor’s suspension.
“So, this one year of remarkable inactivity of suspension, no work being done, it is coming at considerable cost to the taxpayer and the analysis we have done it is going to cost the Ghanaian taxpayer millions of dollars because of the contract we have signed with Ribade Company Limited, the standing time claims for all of these 12 months, the abortive and reworks cost,” he said.
He explained that the additional cost would be attributed to the suspended works and that as the site had been abandoned, a lot of the construction would be done again.
“So, it certainly will come at extra cost and the contractor is not a father Christmas, they are not going to bear that extra cost, it comes back to the Ghanaian taxpayer,” Mr Ablakwa said.
“That is why we are saying that President Akufo-Addo on the first anniversary of Ribade abandoning the site, and the Board of Trustees, we demand that they abrogate the contract with all of these contractors with Ribade and then the Architect David Agyaye and their Associates.”
He said that the Minority believed that with the same Architect at work, it would be a similar arrangement if these people continue to hold valid contracts; and that it was an extra burden and extra cost to the Ghanaian taxpayer
Mr Ablakwa said that one year was enough for the Government to realize that this project, which per their analysis would cost the tax payer over one billion dollars.
He said looking at the current economic challenges facing the country, it was time the President and the Board of Trustees abrogate the contract, close the shop and ask the contractors to go home.
“We cannot even meet obligations that we owe our creditors; we have defaulted on our loans, and we have been declared bankrupt. We have been declared insolvent,” Mr Ablakwa said.