Gemechu Dubisso

MPs Cautioned About Budget Approval for New Road Projects

By Sisay Sahlu

ADDIS ABABA – The Federal auditor general has offered advice for lawmakers not to approve the budget for new road projects without the requisite feasibility studies.

The office’s advice came a day after the ministry of finance proposed a new federal budget to the lower house of parliament for 2019/209 fiscal year.

Ethiopian Road authority’s performance report was a subject of discussion among the lawmakers and federal auditor general on Wednesday.

The road authority is investing a huge amount of money on various road projects, said federal auditor general Gemechu Dembiso.

But most of them are being carried out without the necessary viability study, he said, adding many roads are either behind their schedule or their quality is being compromised.

Gemechu said residents are also complaining about issues related to contractor’s capacity, compensation claims, and quality of roads as well as lack of equity in relation to the distribution of road construction.

The 2019/20 budget allocates 46bln Br to various road projects that will be carried out by the Road Authority. Of this, over 8 billion Br is expected to be acquired through aid and loan.

This has to be spent wisely, believes the auditor general.

“Sometimes the amount of money spent on one road project has a capacity to build two similar road projects,” said Gemechu, blaming it on the “absence of necessary feasibility study” on the design and structure of major roads being constructed in the country.

“The lawmakers should not let this happen again and approve budgets to projects” with insufficient studies on the design and structure and feasibility, he added.

He also advised the road authorities to hold “the necessary consultation with” the communities residing in the area that the road is planned to be built.

The road sector should have clear long-term and short-term strategies that will help the country to spend money based on the prearranged plan in order to solve the repetitive and complex road construction issues which are we witnessing every year,” said Gemechu.

The advice has been welcomed at Wednesday’s meeting.

Chairperson of Government Expenditure Administration and Audit standing committee of the parliament, Mohamed Yesuf, said that the house will be strict in terms of budget allocation.

It’s becoming “a very serious issue”, he said indicating they may take measures if the Ethiopian authority is not come up with a noticeable plan.