The Ministry of Works and Housing has assured Government is committed to securing the resources for completing the Saglemi Housing project, regardless of the challenges and outcome of an ongoing criminal investigations into the deal.
Francis Asenso–Boakye, the Minister for Works and Housing, yesterday stated at the press conference that“The doors of the Ministry are open to all and we commit to engage with any entity or entities willing to do so in truth, sincerity and fairness. We serve the cause of the people of Ghana and we will not renege on that…”
Responding to a viral video decrying the state of affairs on the site and canvassing for mass occupation without recourse to due procedure, the minister said the Ministry believes that if the aim of the video was altruistic as the voice over narrator attempts to communicate, the thrust of the message would have gone beyond the appeal to populism, from what is clearly, a superficial dab at the challenges confronting the project.
Read below excerpts of the press statement at the press conference:
For the record, the Government of H. E. the President, Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo, upon assumption of office in January 2017, has recognized the urgent need for the rapid resolution of these challenges, thorny as they may be, in order for these properties that have been developed at great cost to the state, to be completed and made available to the citizenry. Not counting the actions taken in private, the records show that there have been not less than twenty public engagements by the Ministry of Works and Housing, including (a) periodic updates at the Meet-the-Press series since 2017, (b) joint press tours of the site, (c) statements and responses to urgent questions on the floor of Parliament, (d) in-person interviews at various media houses among others.
In all of these events, the Ministry has not shied away from outlining the ills of the project and the remedial actions the government has been undertaking towards the goal of completing and availing its occupation.
In sum, and for the avoidance of doubt, the following reflects the engagements and actions taken in respect of the Saglemi Housing Project;
- Both my predecessor and myself have repeatedly pledged the Government’s intent to continue and complete the Saglemi Housing Project
- By 2017, the Ministry of Works and Housing alleged anomalies in the execution of the contract leading to a significant shortchanging of the state running into the tens of millions of dollars.
- The original output target of the Saglemi project of 5,000 units at a total cost of US$200million as stipulated in the financing agreement presented to, and approved by Parliament had surreptitiously, and drastically, reduced to 1,502, of which 1,389 units had been completed without a commensurate reduction in the overall loan financing. Currently, an amount of approximately, US$197million representing 98 percent has been expended on 1,502 units as against the planned 5,000 units.
- Although the financing of the project had largely been exhausted, an initial technical audit by the Ministry revealed the lack of primary infrastructure to the Saglemi project site thus limiting the utility of the development. The key primary infrastructure still outstanding include water supply and electricity.
- The Ministry tasked the Ghana Institution of Surveyors to conduct a cost and technical audit of the contract executed by the contractors in the context of the variety of agreements and commitments made by the parties to the project. Upon completion of the audit, the Ghana Institution of Surveyors estimated that an approximate amount of US$32million would be needed to complete the project.
- The Ghana Institution of Surveyors identified several unmet activities that were the responsibility of the Contractor, and a press conference was held to this effect.
- Based on the foregoing, and in view of the absence of the critical primary infrastructure, the Ministry sort the advice of the Attorney General who subsequently recommended for the issue to be referred to the Police CID for criminal investigation.
- However, having understood the complexity of the issues surrounding this project, upon assumption of office as the sector Minister for Works and Housing, I directed the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited, an agency under my Ministry, to validate the report of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors and advice accordingly.
- As recent as 18th March 2021, I have personally visited the project site and have acknowledged the urgent need to complete the project, notwithstanding the complexities the project presents.
- Several ideas and scenarios, including dedicating a section of the housing units to the Armed Forces of Ghana, have been mooted and are being analysed.
- A cursory inspection of the current state of development belies the fundamental challenge of the absence of the primary infrastructure the site suffers, for which reason a further investment is required.
- As the country faces the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, public finances are severely constrained, the Ministry acknowledges that completing the development is not an easy or straight forward task.
- These facts are not information exclusive to the Ministry and could easily be found in the public domain due to the extensive news coverage the issue has garnered over the past four years. For this reason, the Ministry finds this video to be a grandstanding gesture laden with diabolical intent, to say the least.
The Ministry will ask the general public not to be wooed by the populist appeal by the producers of the video in question to indulge in recklessness in the name of forced occupation (of an incomplete development) since, in the absence of th