Mahama’s sod-cutting for Kumasi Airport was a ‘waste of national resources’ – Baako rebuts

Seasoned journalist, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako has accordingly replied the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Communications Officer, Sammy Gyamfi as he promised last week after the latter called him a liar for exposing former President John Dramani Mahama on his sod-cutting behaviour.

Kweku Baako had earlier made statements to the effect that the former President, who doubles as NDC 2020 Presidential candidate, cut sods for electoral purposes while in government because the projects for which the sods were cut didn’t materialize under his administration.

Mahama on NPP “Sakawa” Projects

Mr. John Mahama, speaking at the party’s Town Hall meeting held in Kumasi, questioned the NPP’s commitment to complete its infrastructure projects.

He called the President’s sod cutting ”sakawa” saying, “I learnt from a hospital project in Upper East when I was Vice President. Since that project, I told myself I will never cut sod until I have seen a contractor at the site. These days you see the President and Vice President cutting sod everywhere without any contractor there.

”Nananom, if they come to your town to cut sod for a project ask them two questions, let them tell you if the project were captured under the 2020 budget or whether parliament has approved a loan for the project. If they’re unable to answer then it means the sod-cutting is a scam, it’s because of the elections. It is sakawa or 419”.

Sod-Cutting Scam

But Kweku Baako revealed the scam between projects by President Nana Akufo-Addo and that of Ex-President John Mahama explaining that unlike President Akufo-Addo who does due diligence before cutting sods, Ex-President Mahama was guilty of cutting certain sods during his administration for electoral purposes only.

”My checks indicate that that particular sod-cutting was needless. It had no real foundation because it’s true Parliamentary approval for that particular loan facility had been effected but there were conditions precedent which were laid out that without that the agreements will not come into force. Some were value for money audit and others were that he should sign the loan agreement before they can proceed with the construction. At the time he cut the sod, the financing agreements had not been signed. Indeed, these things were done in 2018.

”My own checks and documentations I have accessed, point to the fact that the first sod-cutting was for purely electoral purposes. Oh yes! It was completely baseless. There was no basis for it; no foundation for it but they did cut the sod on 5th December 2016…It was totally unnecessary but it was done for as I said electoral purposes.”

Sammy Gyamfi‘s Statements

Immediately after Kweku Baako’s disclosure, Sammy Gyamfi released a statement denying the facts and stressed that Mr. Baako lied.

”On the matter of the 2nd Phase of the Kumasi Airport Expansion project by President Mahama, it is instructive that Mr. Baako acknowledges that the loan for the project had been approved by the Parliament of Ghana at the time President Mahama cut the sod for the commencement of the project in December 2016. Indeed, President Mahama performed the sod-cutting ceremony after securing parliamentary approval of a loan of 65,037,500 Euros from Banco Santander S.A. and export credit support from the United Kingdom Export Finance Agency, for onward lending in the sum of 7,762,500 Euros, to the Ghana Airports Company Limited, in November, 2016.

“Aside the fact that Parliament had approved the loan facility at the time President Mahama cut the sod for the project, the contractor, who had completed the first Phase of the project, had moved to site and had cleared and fenced the land for the take-off of Phase 2 of the project.

“The claim by Mr. Baako that certain conditions precedent in the Project Agreements had not been fulfilled, hence it was “needless” for President Mahama to have cut the sod for the commencement of the project, is totally untenable in our view. The fact still remains, that Parliament had approved the loan facility for the project and the contractor was already on site at the time President Mahama cut the sod for the commencement of the project. Therefore, Mr. Baako’s assertion about unfulfilled conditions does not in any way contradict the statement made by President Mahama at the NDC’s Kumasi Town Hall Meeting that, he vowed never to cut sod for any project until he saw a contractor on site due to lessons he learnt from the delayed start of the Upper West Regional Hospital project,” Sammy Gyamfi said.

Sammy Gyamfi Peddles Lies

Kweku Baako, on Friday, September 18, 2020, following Sammy Gyamfi‘s statements made a promise to Ghanaians to return with an appropriate reply and he has indeed fulfilled his promise.

The veteran journalist, to whom precision of facts is key, speaking on Peace FM’s ”Kokrokoo” on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 pulled out documents upon documents as he set the record straight on the sod cutting of projects, particularly the Kumasi International Airport, Tema motorway and others, by the erstwhile Mahama government.

Mr. Baako revealed he wasn’t wrong about the statements he made regarding President John Mahama for which Sammy Gyamfi came to rebut.

According to him, Sammy Gyamfi peddled lies in his press statement captioned ”Kweku Baako Lied On The Matter Of Sod-Cutting Ceremonies By John Mahama”.

Mr. Baako agreed with Sammy Gyamfi on the part that a Parliamentary approval was secured by Mr. Mahama to commence the construction of the phase two of the Kumasi airport, however it didn’t green-lit the contractor of the project to go to the field and begin the construction.

He explained that there were seven conditions that had to be fulfilled by the Mahama administration but they could only meet three of them and until the remaining four had been done, the project couldn’t come off.

”There were seven conditions precedent to be fulfilled before this contract comes into full force and effect. [a] Signing of the contract agreement had been done and that was done 1st December, 2016 and [c] Parliamentary approval, that is of the loan facility, had been done 31st October, 2016 and 3rd November, 2016. Public Procurement Authority approval had also been done, I’ve accessed the document, was 30th November 2016. So, there were four conditions precedent that had not been touched at all when President Mahama went cutting the sod and listen to those ones; submission of the performance security by the contractor to the employer as per the provisions of clause 4.2 of the conditions of the contract.

”The performance security was delivered December 15th, 2017; more than a year and few days after the first sod cutting. Sammy Gyamfi‘s statement that the contractor had finished first phase and moved from the site to the new site to develop phase 2 also is not true. It’s false.”

He also disclosed that the claims by Sammy Gyamfi that ”the contractor, who had completed the first Phase of the project, had moved to site and had cleared and fenced the land for the take-off of Phase 2 of the project” is a palpable falsehood.

Mr. Baako told host Kwami Sefa Kayi that ”the contractor who did the first phase is not the same that did the second phase. The first contractor is called PW Ghana limited…their contract was from 7th March, 2013 and they finished 15th September, 2015…And they were nowhere to be found at the time that President Mahama was cutting that sod. Second phase was for the contractor construction UK; their boss was in Ghana at that material moment”.

”Apparently, the Ghana Airports Company – they were the client, implement agency – they and the Ministry of Transport and somebody said but I couldn’t verify that the Regional administration, they got together and got some workers to clear the place for the purposes of the Presidential sod cutting; and the Chairman of this company was in town. He was invited to come to explain the model”, he added.

He further read a letter signed by former Minister of Transport, Fifi Kwetey that went to confirm that work could not be done until the conditions precedent to the project had been fulfilled.

”The documents I have here showed that [1] the contractor who they are referring to was not the one who moved from one site to another site. The new contractor had not begun any work at all. The commencement of work started only after all the four outstanding conditions precedents had been fulfilled. First of all, the performance security bond was 15th December, 2017. The value for money audit was finished October 2017, signature and entry into force of the loan facility agreements (I hold copies here) on 29th December, 2017, effectiveness of the drawdown on loan facility 26th April, 2018. It’s because all these were fulfilled that made President Akufo-Addo go and cut the sod on 6th June, 2018 for phase 2.

”That second sod cutting is the one that made sense because the contract could not be performed unless all these had been fulfilled according to the contract they (Mahama government) had signed and according to Fifi Kwetey’s letter.”

Mr. Baako further stated that President Akufo-Addo’s sod cutting for the same project made sense than the Mahama’s for reason being that when the President cut his sod, all the conditions for the commencement of the project had been fully met.

”So, it was when that was done before Akufo-Addo cut the sod but you see the attacks on him for what they claim to be duplication, waste of national resources and waste of time with President Mahama, himself, leading the attack and claiming that the contractor was sacked for almost 18 months. It can never be true…This wasn’t a backyard garden transaction”, he insisted.

Kweku Baako maintained that the NDC flagbearer’s sod cutting ”was purely for election purposes. That is the one that waste of national resources; that was the one that was waste of time”. Peace FM

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