The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has decided to reconstruct six of its defective flats at the Sakumono Estates near Tema, contrary to its earlier decision to renovate them.
The decision to reconstruct the flats follows the advice of structural engineers that they were beyond renovation.
Deputy Public Affairs Director of SSNIT, Ms Eva Amegashie, who made this known to the Daily Graphic in Accra, said “the problem is more than renovation, and that it needs reconstruction”.
Therefore, she said, SSNIT had engaged engineers to study whether the defects were structural and come out with the redesigning of the flats. She stressed that SSNIT was studying the technical details on the best way to execute the project.
Occupants of the flats have been moved out for the past one year following SSNIT's directive to that effect to allow for a major renovation of the project.
The affected persons had since accused SSNIT of not providing them with alternative accommodation and delaying the start of the renovation.
Ms Amegashie could not tell when the reconstruction work would begin, stating that the project had to go through tender as required by the Procurement Act.
Asked about alternative accommodation for the affected persons, Ms Amegashie said SSNIT did not have any alternative accommodation for them at the moment.
That, she said, was because SSNIT had stopped putting up new buildings.
She, therefore, asked the affected persons to bear with the SSNIT as it was making efforts to execute the project to relocate them.
Huge cracks and other structural defects which rendered the flats dangerous for habitation and necessitated the evacuation of the tenants, have deteriorated even further because of the delay in rehabilitating the buildings.
More than one year after tenants of the six flats vacated them at the instance of SSNIT, for major repair works on the flats, the project has not started.
Some of the displaced tenants who spoke to the Daily Graphic said they vacated the flats and handed over the keys to SSNIT long before the deadline of March 5,2006, in anticipation that repair work would be completed with the barest minimum of delay to enable them to resume occupation.
The tenants said they had been assured by SSNIT, that renovation of the flats would be completed within six months, beginning from the date of their vacation of the flats. “More than a year later, nothing has happened and SSNIT does not appear to be bothered by the difficulties we are going through,” a spokesman for the tenants told the Daily Graphic.
Some of the tenants have confirmed that their relocation to temporary accommodation in places far away from Sakumono, had disrupted their family lives. They said apart from failing to provide them with alternative accommodation, SSNIT had also not communicated a word to them about the renovation of the flats.
“Getting our children on time to schools which they still attend at Sakumono and picking them up after school has been quite problematic for us. Most of us are working people who travel daily between Sakumono and Accra,” one of them explained.
In an interview with the Public Affairs Director of SSNIT, Mr K. Osei-Bimpong, in November last year, he told the Daily Graphic that the consulting engineers, ABP Consult Limited, who surveyed the flats, had suggested the demolition of the flats as an alternative to a major rehabilitation project.
He said at the time that SSNIT was studying the report of the consultants to determine the respective financial cost of renovating or demolishing the buildings, and would settle on the less costly option.
The tenants said they had since contacted the consulting engineers who surveyed the flats and been informed that the buildings had so deteriorated, that renovating them was now out of question and rather needed to be pulled down.
Story by George Sydney Abugri
& Musah Yahaya Jafaru