Mr Francis Asenso-Boakye, Minister of Works and Housing, has pledged government’s commitment to complete the abandoned Saglemi Housing Project.
In a press engagement in Accra on April 27, to reacted to a video circulating on social media on the Project, the Minister said the video was one purportedly shot with accompanying commentary by a person identifying himself as Dr Hassan Ayariga, decrying the state of affairs on the site and canvassing for mass occupation without recourse to due procedure.
He said the Ministry believed that if the “aim of the video was altruistic as the voice over narrator attempted to communicate, the thrust of the message would have gone beyond the appeal to populism, from what was clearly, a superficial dab at the challenges confronting the project”.
He said the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Government, “Upon assumption of office in January 2017, 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.”
Additionally, Ministry had 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.
According to the Minister, “By 2017 the original output target of the 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.“
He said although the funds for 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.
He said the key primary infrastructure outstanding included water supply and electricity.
Additionally he said 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, the estimated cost was an approximate amount of US$32million to complete the project.
He said to see the project completed he directed the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited, an agency under the Ministry, to validate the report of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors and advice accordingly.
He said on March 18, 2021, “I have personally visited the project site and have acknowledged the urgent need to complete the project, notwithstanding the complexities the project presents.
He said several ideas and scenarios, including dedicating a section of the housing units to the Armed Forces of Ghana, have been mooted and were being analysed and cursory inspection of the current state of development belied the fundamental challenge of the absence of the primary infrastructure the site suffers, for which reason a further investment was required.
He said the country faced the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic hence public finances were severely constrained, adding that the Ministry acknowledged that completing the development was 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,” he said.
He called on 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 since, in the absence of the primary infrastructure, it had consequences for health and safety.
He assured that the Ministry was committed to the completion of the Saglemi Housing project, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing criminal investigations.
The Saglemi Housing Project is located along the Tema-Aflao road in the Greater Accra Region.