The use of disclosure portal is contributing to the progress in accessing information on public funded infrastructure projects being undertaken by eight Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies under the Infrastructure Transparency Initiatives programme (CoST) in the Western Region.
A three-day joint monitoring team visits undertaken by members of CoST Sekondi-Takoradi Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), District Citizen’s Monitoring Teams and selected local government officials revealed the use of the disclosure portal and how it was contributing to promoting transparency and accountability in local infrastructure governance.
The CoST Sekondi-Takoradi is the local chapter of CoST International (Infrastructure Transparency Initiative), one of the leading global initiatives improving transparency and accountability in public infrastructure.
It works with the government, private sector and civil society to promote the disclosure, validation and interpretation of data from infrastructure projects.
This helps to inform and empower citizens and enables them to hold decision-makers accountable..
The monitoring visit was to ascertain progress made by eight districts currently working with CoST Sekondi-Takoradi in the area of online disclosure of project and contract information.
The participating Districts include; Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan, Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal, Nzema East Municipal, Ahanta West Municipal, Effia-Kwesimintsim Municipal, Shama District, Mpohor District, and Wassa East District.
Mr Aziz Mahmoud, the leader of the team and the Assistant Project Coordinator of CoST Sekondi-Takoradi, indicated that gaining access to information throughout the lifecycle of an infrastructure project was critical in ensuring citizens develop confidence in the stewardship of local government officials.
He stated that his outfit launched an online disclosure portal in October 2021 to enable participating local governments or procuring entities to disclose project and contract information.
At Shama, the joint monitoring team recorded the most impressive performance, in terms of completeness of disclosed information; including milestones, pictures and geotagging to enable easy tracking of projects.
The district was also the first to link the CoST portal to that of the district’s website.
Alhaji Abu Mahama, the Shama District Planning Officer, said the CoST concept was dear to the Assembly in helping to build a stronger partnership with the communities they served.
He also indicated that the assembly members would be educated on how to use the portal to help them disseminate information to their constituents.
The Planning Officer appealed to CoST Sekondi-Takoradi to assist the assembly with laptop computers to enhance their work.
Chief Engineer Ebenezer Kwafo, the Municipal Works Engineer at Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal Assembly, expressed his appreciation for the visit and gave the assurance that his team would continue to disclose more project data onto the portal.
He indicated that through CoST’s assurance processes, improvements such as site safety and management have been brought to the fore and receiving serious attention.
At the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, Mr. David Yankey, the Assistant Development Planning Officer, disclosed that his team had succeeded in disclosing more than 10 projects into the portal.
Mr Charles Bissue, a member of the District Citizen’s Monitoring Team, representing the Essikado Traditional Council, expressed his appreciation for the work done by the STMA team and urged them to continue to disclose more projects into the portal.
He further assured members of the MSG that his group would make use of the disclosed information to ensure that better outcomes were derived from investments made into public infrastructure.
To sustain the gains, the CoST Sekondi-Takoradi Manager, Mr. Isaac Aidoo, stated that series of tailored capability building workshops, ranging from data usage and participatory infrastructure monitoring for citizens, community-based organizations (CBOs) and media practitioners to ensure all stakeholders are informed and able to contribute to driving reforms that reduce mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption, and the risks posed to the public from inferior quality infrastructure.