Ghana’s Chief Justice, Gertrude Torkornoo, has challenged Engineers to make ethical principles a priority in their work to block the losses the country incurs in infrastructural development.
She noted that while Engineers had been instrumental on promoting excellence and ethical practices, there were calls for concern about the huge sums the country loses through the construction of major government projects.
“It has been acknowledged that discussions on values and ethics are relevant within the context of how Ghana leaks so much money from the way infrastructural development is done.
“Issues such as corruption, safety concerns, and adherence to code of conduct have always docked the pristine nobility of your profession,” the Chief Justice noted.
She said this at the 9th annual Ethics and Leadership lecture of the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE) held in Accra.
The lecture was on the theme: “Improving national values, professional practice, and engineering ethics”.
Engineers develop plans for improvements to existing infrastructure or create new ones, budgets for projects, analyse and provide solutions for issues such as power outages, water leakages, and transportation.
Speaking on their importance in national development, Justice Torkornoo said: “Engineers shape our infrastructure, propel technological advancement, and drive innovation, which are pivotal to the progress and prosperity of the nation.”
She noted that executing such role required adherence to high ethical values, saying, “without an ethical anchor, the economy flails or breaks in the hands of its infrastructure developers.”
She expressed worry that while national progress was highly connected to issues of values and ethics, today, the expansion of the global community through the internet had led to much loss on its importance.
“The danger to national survival cannot be overestimated in this cacophony. There’s a pressing imperative to my mind to restore, at least, an overview of national values and to recognise that national good is greater than individual grasp, and to make ethics, our lone star,” the Chief Justice said.
She, therefore, encouraged GhIE to stimulate a national conversation on ethics, which she said was necessary to people’s wellbeing.
Mr Kwabena Bempong, President, Ghana Institution of Engineering, also underscored the relevance of ethical behaviour and national infrastructural and economic development.
“Any lack of ethical behaviour on our part, will have disastrous trust, safety, financial and economy implications on our beloved country, and our professional reputation will thus be irredeemably damaged,” he said.
“It is, therefore, import that as professionals, we constantly remind ourselves of our moral duty and calling to strive for excellence in every aspect of our work and be aware of the need to be ethical,” he encouraged.
To ensure that Engineers were ethically upright, Mr Bempong said that the Institution had published the code of ethics, including Engineers Oath, to guide their practice, in addition to the annual ethics and leadership lecture.
A study conducted in Ghana between 2014 and 2017, for example, estimated that Ghana loses up to US$25 million annually via unfinished projects.
It equated the said amount to 667 additional three-unit classroom blocks per year, capable of accommodating some 70,000 students.
The study was by done Dr Martin Williams, Associate Professor, Public Administration, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, in collaboration with the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the Local Government Service Secretariat (LGSS).
The data covered about 14,000 projects across a wide variety of agencies and funding sources such as the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), Internally Generated Funds and central government funding.