The mother and Child Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital situation in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, which was under construction and later stalled for the past 45 years, came to the limelight in 2019 after a joy news documentary by Seth Kwame Boateng dubbed “NEXT TO DIE”.
The President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo then paid a working visit to the hospital and inspected this facility (2019).
After few negotiations and an official sword cutting in May 2020, the president handed the project over to a UK firm, Contracta UK LTD to continue and finish the long-standing project within 36 months at a cost of 155 million Euros.
However, the structural analysis performed by the construction firm and the Ministry of Health indicates that the whole project would have to be pulled down. Their reason is simple. The structure is fragile, weak, and cannot withstand the test of time to accommodate the kind of equipment it’s going to be housed with.
The 750-bed capacity Mother and Child unit project of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital dates back to the year 1976, when the then Head of State, The Late Col. I. K. Acheampong (National Redemption Council) cut sod for the commencement of the project. The project was halted just after two years of its commencement in 1978.
Surprisingly, successive governments never had an interest in the project, so it was equally abandoned for 20 years. In the year 1999, The Late Ft. Lt Jerry John Rawlings, the then President of the republic, gave the long outstanding project a facelift.
The contract for the execution of the project was then rewarded to a Turkish Company to continue and finish it, yet after structural analysis on the project by the experts, it was suggested the structure must be pulled down since it failed to meet the designed standards for the new face look.
As concerned and disturbed as we were we shamefully heaved a worrisome sigh, thinking that the project will be completed although pulled down. Little did we know that was the beginning of nearly an additional 2 decades of abandonment.
The end of the tenure of The Late J. J Rawlings in the year 2000 indeed sealed the desertion of the hospital project. Well, Ghanaians were hopeful at least.
The adage “never say die until the bones are rotten” perhaps kept us moving and being optimistic about the future.
Then came a newly elected government led by Prez John Agyekum Kuffour. President Kufour’s administration redesigned the project. The project was then designed and expanded to be a six-story –three-tower building.
However, due to the failure of successive governments to release funds for its completion, the project came to a standstill yet again. Its future was shuttered despite the optimism.
Most disheartening and off-putting is the fact that this ordeal and sheer disregard by successive governments had continued for 45 years now not to talk about the numerous dollar amounts spent on it.
Should Ghana as a budding nation continue to abandon projects? Pull them down after years of abandonment when structural analysis has been performed and they are deemed unfit.
The mother and Child Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital is just but a few of such deserted projects in the country. Similar projects can be sited across the length and breadth of the nation ranging from Health facilities to Sports centers as well as educational facilities.
It is hard time we found lasting solutions to the puzzling problem of abandoned essential developmental projects. This is very critical because the citizenry needs it.
In William’s research (2017) on “The Political Economy of Unfinished Development Projects: Corruption, Clientelism, or Collective choice? He discovered that about 14,000 projects have been abandoned as of 2013 in Ghana.
Furthermore, one-third of projects started in Ghana are never completed, and about 20-30% of all government expenditure (both local and central) are consumed by these projects. These problems are not Ghana-based alone, other sister nations on the African continent likewise face this problem.
Rasul and Roger (2017) estimated that about nearly 25% of government projects in Nigeria that commences are not completed, and about nearly 20,000 government projects abandoned in the same Nigeria (Vanguard 2016).
Mid construction abandonment similarly occurs in countries like South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, etc. Smaller geographical nations such as Togo and Gambia are not spared. In Africa, I am confident to say no nation is spared from this rather bothersome development. I cannot say the same for other continents because such discontinuance in projects had been a massive factor contributing to our infrastructure and development deficits.
In this article, 3 critical questions must be answered so far as our topic is concerned
• Why do we still see deserted projects?
• What are the social, political, and economic impacts on the ordinary Ghanaian citizen?
• What can citizens, governments, and foreign donors do to reduce this anomaly?
Non-completion of Projects, The big question; Why?
The answer should be obvious. The non-completion of government projects is strongly correlated to corruption and ineffective prioritizations by the government and its officials.
Contracts in most cases are hastily awarded to government friended agencies and firms who fail to execute these projects within the stipulated timeline due to change in government and political parties.
Likewise, funds purposely set aside for these projects are either squandered by the successive government or diverted to commence other projects which in the long run do not benefit the ordinary Ghanaian.
After all who checks them? Corrupt practices in infrastructure procurement tend to be another contributory factor, though most unfinished projects have more work completed by the contractors.
It must also be noted that some political actors deliberately have some projects halted because they have an unwavering interest in the failure of the projects. They continue to pursue their political propaganda leaving the ordinary Ghanaian to suffer.
A study by Martin J. Williams: Unfinished projects in Ghana: Mechanizing Collective choice (2017) blamed the abandonments of the project on collective choice failures. According to Martin, most projects fail to be completed because local politicians do not agree on the order in which projects should be distributed among the numerous communities within the country. Projects remained unfinished, due to the shifting and unpredictable nature of political bargains.
He further stated that “a typical district might have money for eight projects each year, and must decide how to distribute them across 30-40 communities, which are each home to elected local assembly members who want projects for themselves. Politicians have to bargain over the sequence of project delivery and form coalitions, but holding these coalitions together requires inter-temporal bargains that are difficult to maintain.
The result is that districts’ collective expenditure priorities are always changing, and so they frequently spend money on new projects, while equally useful half-built projects languish, as they await funds for completion.”
Social, Political, and Economic Implications
The social implications of these abandoned projects are enormous likewise their political and economic counterparts. The re-allocation of funds to these non-completed projects is so huge an amount that it could have completed twice the same project.
Sometimes the demolition and reconstruction of the project, in the case of the MBU project at KATH could have built thrice the same project with the initial plan if planned properly.
Some monies spent on these projects could complete about 667 additional schools which could serve over 75,000 children annually.
School construction alone has shown to be the leader in increased educational achievement and higher future wages in infrastructure development among poor developing countries.
According to Duflo, (2001), these unscrupulous wastes usually have developmental consequences on the nation in the long-run. If we fail to correct these we shall all suffer. Likewise, generations to come.
CITIZENS, GOVERNMENTS, AND FOREIGN DONORS’ CONTRIBUTION TO THE REDUCTION OF ABANDONED PROJECTS
As citizens of this noble nation of ours, we have a part to play in the reduction and non-completion of projects. Governments and stakeholders similarly have a role to play.
As citizens, we have to require accountability from the various governments to complete various projects started. These governments can be held accountable through our votes and opinions.
As the adage goes, your vote is your power. Make sure to include in your decision whether to vote a particular government in or out, whether previously started projects or non-completed projects will be continued.
Our opinions also matter; we must readily share or voice out our opinions on non-completed projects. In this way, we’re helping build a better nation because the development of a nation to a larger extent depends on its social amenities and infrastructure.
Also as the government of the day, you equally have a part to play in the reduction of non-completed projects. Set out policies that make sure, projects started are completed with the stipulated time and adequate funds are allocated to see to its completion.
Another way is to set up a policy of No New Project if a non-completed project still exists. This should be implemented in the context of communities, districts, municipalities, or metropolitans. Where unfinished projects still exist in any of these jurisdictions, no new project should be undertaken unless it is completed.
This would equally help curb and reduce non-completed projects.
On the other hand, the government of the day must invest in monitoring and evaluation. All projects must be monitored, reported, and evaluated from time to time. Increased supervision would equally be effective. Keen attention to monitoring and evaluation would be an effective way to improve and curb the situation of not completing and abandoning projects.
Donors and foreign aids should not support projects only by contributing funds, but also by seeing to it that projects are duly completed. Strengthening the delivery of a project by donors would be an effective way of curbing this canker. Enforcing that projects are completed and completed within the stipulated time frame is easier for donors than governments especially in the case of foreign donors.
This watchdog role can also be played by independent government bodies like the Office of Auditor General, the media, NGO’s and foreign bodies such as the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU). Since the most government have good ties with these bodies, they could act as watchdogs over issues such as these and ensure the completion of projects funded by them and member states.
The infrastructure development of Ghana and Africa as a whole can be achieved if projects undertaken are just not completed but completed on time. Unfinished infrastructure projects are a disheartening case in Ghana and have to be given the needed attention.
As an SDG advocate and ambassador, achieving the SDGs before the year 2030 is very much feasible in the context of Ghana if an issue such as unfinished infrastructure is tackled. SDG goals numbered 3, 4 & 1 can be achieved timely than our counterparts if all unfinished projects are tackled. 60-70% of non-completed projects in Ghana fail within the targets of these SDGs.
Better understating and tackling of the problem of unfinished projects will solve Ghana’s social amenities deficit and help make Ghana a competitive country across the globe.
Duflo, E. (2001), “Schooling and Labor Market Consequences in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment”, American Economic Review
Olken, B. (2007), Monitoring Corruption: “Evidence from a field Experiment in Indonesia”, Journal of Political Economy
Rasul, I and Rogger, D (2017), “Management of Bureaucrats and Public Service Delivery: Evidence from Nigerian Civil Service”, Economic Journal 24 April
Vangaurd News (2016), “19,000 projects abandoned In Nigeria, ex-BPP DG tells Senate”
Williams, M J (2017), “The Political Economy of Unfinished Development Projects: Corruption, Clientelism, or Collective choice? America Political Science Review 111 (4)
Graphic Online (2020), “After 44 years of neglect: Work on KATH Maternity Block Reactivated”
Joy News Online (2021), “Stalled KATH Maternity and Children’s Block to be pulled down”
Williams, M J (2017),” Unfinished development Projects in Ghana: Mechanizing Collective Choice”, IGC project
Author: McBilly Yaw Graham