Works and Housing Minister assures gov’t is dealing with ‘Saglemi’

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Mr Francis Asenso-Boakye, Works and Housing Minister

Ghanaians have been asked to ignore a recent video supposedly shot by the founder and leader of the All People’s Congress (APC), Hassan Ayariga, on the controversial Saglemi Housing project.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, has described the action of Mr Ayariga as “grandstanding gesture laden with diabolical intent”.

In a video that has gone viral on social media, Mr Ayariga is heard decrying the state of affairs of the Saglemi Housing project, and canvassing for mass occupation without recourse to due procedure.

Setting the records straight

Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, the sector Minister stated: “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.”

Mr Asenso-Boakye disclosed that, not counting actions taken in private, the records show that there had been not less than 20 public engagements by the Ministry of Works and Housing on the project since 2017.

The actions include periodic updates at the Meet-the-Press series since 2017; joint press tours of the site; statements and responses to urgent questions on the floor of Parliament and in-person interviews at various media houses, among others.

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He explained that the original output target of the project was 5,000 units at a total cost of US$200 million, as stipulated in the Financing Agreement presented to, and approved, by Parliament.

He said this arrangement “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 per cent, has been expended on 1,502 units as against the planned 5,000 units,” Mr Asenso-Boakye disclosed.

He said although the financing of the project had largely been exhausted, an initial technical audit by the Ministry had revealed lack of primary infrastructure to the project site, thus limiting the utility of the development.

He disclosed further that the key primary infrastructure still outstanding include water supply and electricity.

Criminality

According to the Minister, the Ministry tasked the Ghana Institution of Surveyors to conduct a cost and technical audit of the contract in the context of the variety of agreements and commitments made by the parties to the project.

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“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,” he said.

He explained further that in view of the absence of the critical primary infrastructure, the Ministry sought the advice of the Attorney General, who subsequently recommended that the issue be referred to the Police CID for criminal investigation.

“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 advise 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,” he stated.

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Assurance

He disclosed that 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,” he said.

He has, therefore, asked the “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 the primary infrastructure, it has consequences for their own health and safety.”

“The public is assured that the Ministry commits to securing the resources for completing the Saglemi Housing project, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing criminal investigations,” the Minister assured.

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