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01.09.2005 General News

Housing programmes need central coordinating authority


Accra, Sept. 1, GNA - Participants at a forum on Housing, urban development and poverty alleviation on Thursday stressed the need for the establishment of a central authority to coordinate the scattered programmes in the sector.

They argued that the absence of such a central organ had led to serious defect in implementation of policies, leading to breakdown in control and haphazard development across the country's cities. The forum organized by the Ghana Institute of Architects was to stimulate discussion on the trend of housing development in the country. Mr. Steve Akuffo, Immediate Past President of the Ghana Institute of Architects, said most of the country's cities were growing by chance without any proper planning, posing a major development challenge to government and city authorities.

He said the problem was further compounded by the absence of a comprehensive human settlements policy without which it would be difficult to guide and control the physical development of the country. Mr. Akuffo said the spread of responsibilities among the different governmental agencies was making coordination difficult among the various ministries, agencies and departments.

"The lack of a comprehensive approach has resulted in widespread bureaucratic confusion and duplication as well as many unfinished tasks," he said and called for the setting up of a multi-sectoral group to work on any framework for the preparation and management of a National Housing Policy or shelter Strategy.

Mr Akuffo, however, stressed the need for the division of responsibilities between governmental agencies, private enterprises, voluntary agencies and the people to be housed about who needed to do what and what various parties could expect.

On urban development, Mr Akuffo said the development of slums in the primary city of Accra was the physical manifestation of failed agricultural and housing policies as well as rural development. He said as long as no drastic efforts were made to create employment opportunities and enhance social amenities in the rural communities, people would continuously flock to the cities creating the slums. Mr Kwadwo Ohene Sarfo, a consultant suggested channelling of resources into the development of secondary cities to reduce the pressure on Accra.

Besides, the city authorities should be allowed to exercise full authority over the development of the cities since political interference had hindered effective management of the cities by the authorities.

Mr Bright Blewu, Secretary, Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) complained about the high cost of housing, saying it was beyond the reach of many, thereby leading to the creation of slums.