The Minister of Works and Public Assets, Dr. Dennis Sandy, receny disclosed a concerning lack of transparency in the management of the Wellington-Masiaka road project.

According to Dr. Sandy, crucial documents, including audited financial statements and traffic data, have not been received or reviewed by the government.

One key issue highlighted by the Minister involves Clause 10.4 of the agreement between the government and the China Railway Seventh Group, which allows for toll tariff adjustments contingent upon a review of base traffic data. Dr. Sandy emphasized that this critical data is currently unavailable to the government.

Furthermore, the agreement stipulates that the company must annually submit financial statements and audited reports to the government. Dr. Sandy revealed that these documents have not been received, prompting him to request immediate compliance from the China Railway Seventh Group.

A significant aspect of the agreement involves the government receiving 10% of the Yearly Tolling income after operation and maintenance costs. However, the Minister could not confirm the receipt of such income, and the government has not published any information on toll road revenues.

This situation raises questions about the government’s handling of the toll road project, especially given the lack of transparency surrounding financial matters. In 2018, former Deputy Minister of Works Melrose Kargbo had announced an evaluation team to investigate the toll road contract. Surprisingly, Minister Sandy disclosed that he has not seen any evaluation documents since taking office, and no public information is available on the proposed evaluation in 2018.

Critics are now questioning the government’s decision to push for a significant toll charge increase, exceeding 100%, without first ensuring the availability and scrutiny of essential documents.

The move has sparked concerns, particularly amid acknowledgment from President Julius Maada Bio about the challenging economic situation the country is facing. The lack of transparency in the toll road project is raising eyebrows and calls for the government to prioritize accountability and openness in such critical infrastructure agreements.