Participants at a national dialogue on infrastructure delivery, have urged the government to involve citizens in the execution of development projects across the country.
This, according to them, would help prevent what they described as “project malpractices” on the part of some contractors, who carried out their mandate unprofessionally, by using poor materials and executing shoddy work.
The recommendation was made at a discussion, held in Accra yesterday, after monitoring of projects in parts of the country, carried out by SEND Ghana and Integrity Action, both non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The finding of the two NGOs showed that citizens want to be involved in the execution of projects.
The monitoring was done in Tamale, Yendi, Savelugu, Tolon, and West Gonja in Northern and Savannah regions to check the execution of infrastructure projects in health, education, water and sanitation, and other sectors within their communities.
A lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Dr Albert Arhin, presenting the findings at the forum said engaging citizens as watchdogs, would help governments to tap into local knowledge and networks that can lead to the timely identification of irregularities and avoiding costly project failures.
“Engaging citizens in monitoring activities fosters social capital, community cohesion, and civic participation, resulting in sustainable communities that are invested in the success of government projects,” Dr Arhin said.
He said that monitoring of projects by citizens could also serve as a cost effective mechanism for governments to enhance oversight and reduce project costs.
“Citizens possess contextual knowledge and on-the-ground experience, which can identify potential cost-saving measures, innovative solutions, and alternative approaches that may have been overlooked by government,” Dr Arhin said.
The Chief Executive Officer, SEND Ghana, Mr Siapha Kamara, said the objective of the dialogue was “to share emerging issues from citizen-led infrastructure monitoring with national level and other stakeholders and engender a discussion for redress. “
He said infrastructure projects being monitored cut across the health, education, WASH, livelihoods and administration sectors.
Mr Kamara said monitoring of projects by citizens would foster a culture of accountability and transparency within government operations.
“Citizen monitoring approaches tells us that such approaches have the potential to improve services like education, health or infrastructure. While we have seen teacher absenteeism improve, facilities upgraded, and infrastructure provided to communities among others,” he said.