The issue of 86 unused vehicles which were reportedly procured under the administration of former president Jerry John Rawlings has been raising a lot of dust among political stakeholders.
The report by Citi News’ Duke Mensah Opoku confirmed that 86 government vehicles were acquired but abandoned at the Local Government Studies Institute in Accra for almost twenty years now.
According to Opoku, the harsh weather conditions under which the vehicles have been exposed these long years have washed off their body spray, leaving them to face imminent corrosion.
The fact that the vehicles have been totally unused since their purchase was confirmed by the interiors which are still intact, with the leather seats still wrapped in waterproof coverings.
It was revealed that the 86 unused vehicles were part of a 110 cars bought by the JJ Rawlings administration in 1999. From all indications, only 24 of them were put to use, with the remaining 86 left unused for the rest of his regime.
Worse still, none of the subsequent administration put them to use. This has left many Ghanaians wondering how and why?
86 Unused Vehicles – Why?
Why as much as 86 brand new luxury vehicles were imported into the country but left to rust away all these years, despite the prevailing economic hardship in the country, is yet to be fully explained.
Meanwhile, information at hand revealed that the said vehicles were originally procured for District Chief Executives across the country. And since the vehicles were bought almost at the tail end of Rawlings’ administration, it was expected that the succeeding government, the Kufuor administration will see to their distribution to the respective district assemblies.
However, Kufuor’s government failed to do so on the grounds that there were no written contract in the purchase of the vehicles. In the same vein, other successive governments also failed to put the vehicles to use, especially as the importers of the vehicles, African Automobile Company Limited, were yet to be settled.
It was only in 2014 that the vehicles which cost about GHC 6 billion were reported to have been fully paid for, with the support of the Judgment Debt Commission.
Speaking on the issue on Citi Fm Eyewitness News on Tuesday, Former Deputy Minister of Local Government, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, revealed some of the reasons why the 86 vehicles have remained unused all these years. According to him, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration made several attempts during their eight years in power, to take over the vehicles and distribute them to various district assemblies to no avail.
Nii Lantey Vanderpuye also said that, former Local Government Minister, Julius Debrah, as well as the late Atta Mills government in 2012 and 2013 respectively, also tried to give out the vehicles to DCEs, but all failed as a result of the rigorous legal tussle bedeviling the matter.
“As far back as 2013, there were attempts by Mills government to get the vehicles that were motorable, to be given out to some of our DCEs who at the time were having problems with their vehicles… But as at the time, because there had been a long legal tussle over the vehicles, it was difficult for anyone to use them.”
“I remember very well again that, after the 2012 election, when I became Deputy Minister, Julius [Debrah] tried to get us these vehicles so that when we are embarking on the national sanitation exercise, we were trying to see if we could get these vehicles to the assemblies to facilitate and help them do their work because when we went there, some of the assemblies complained about lack of mobility. We tried again but we were not successful,” he added.
Vanderpuye, who lamented the amount of tax payers money wasted in the dormant vehicles, called for the appropriate sanctioning of everyone that contributed to the loss by stopping the state from having access to the vehicles.
Parliament to Probe 86 Unused Vehicles Issue
Parliament has given indications it will investigate this issue of 86 unused vehicles. Speaking to Citi News, the Chairperson of the Local Government and Rural Development Committee of Parliament, Patricia Appiagyei, said a parliamentary enquiry is needed to bring closure to the matter.
According to her, they [the Local Government and Rural Development Committee] are very much interested in looking into the issue in order to find solutions to it. She however expressed fears over the fact that the government will not be able to take any decision on the matter, if it is still undergoing legal processes at the courts.