Engineering better roads and transparent governance in Ghana

Hamish Goldie-Scot, Technical Adviser for CoST – the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST) has been in Ghana recently to support the launch of the Ghana Low Volume Roads Manual (LVR Manual). Launched by the Ghana Institute of Engineering, the manual is designed to provide guidance for engineers, contractors, academia and consultants around the design of roads which are accessed by less than 300 vehicles per day. Such roads usually connect people to homes, schools and neighbouring villages, and so form a crucial part of a country’s economic and social development. The high-profile launch was attended by around 90 people, including from the Ministry of Roads and Highways, the Ghana Highway Authority, the Department of Urban Roads, Municipal Assemblies, District Assemblies and Ghanaian academia.

CoST is the leading global initiative promoting transparency and accountability in public infrastructure, and the International Secretariat is hosted by Engineers Against Poverty (EAP). CoST works with government, industry and civil society to promote the disclosure, validation and interpretation of data from infrastructure projects. The LVR Manual makes specific reference to using the CoST approach in the context of improving road governance in Ghana. Importantly, it also draws on the expertise of local and internationally recognised good practice, and facilitates the development of road design which accounts for local priorities and makes use of indigenous skills. Building local content is a key tenant to developing engineering capacity, as well as economic and social development, and so this is an element of the LVR Manual that EAP welcomes warmly.

However, as noted by Mr Goldie-Scot, broader issues in governance, transparency and accountability must also be addressed to ensure road projects increase in quality and efficiency. This is where adopting the CoST approach could have a truly beneficial impact in infrastructure development in Ghana, laying the groundwork to bolster these necessary governance reforms.

According to Mr Edmund Offei-Annor, of the Ghana Highway Authority, the road network in Ghana is in a state of flux due to urban sprawl and changes in settlement patterns. As such, it’s even more important to develop a comprehensive approach to road construction which supports both the sustainable development goals and Ghana’s economic needs. If properly adopted, the LVR Manual should be a useful tool which can be drawn upon to help achieve both aims.