Row over Peduase Lodge ¢129bn renovation
The recent announcement by the Minister of Works and Housing, Hackman Owusu Agyemang, that renovation at the formerly plush presidential lodge at Peduase in the Eastern region is about to commence at a whopping cost of ¢129 billion has been received with mixed feelings.
It has thus generated heated arguments not only among politicians, but also people who consider themselves 'ordinary' Ghanaians.
There are those who are with the government on the decision to renovate the residential facility, the contract of which had already been given and work expected to start in November, this year.
Others have also severely criticized the plan, since, to them, it is of no use since the President will not be living there after all.
It would be recalled that during his recent visit, with newsmen, to the facility, Mr. Owusu Agyemang indicated that the renovation project had already been awarded on contract to China State Construction Company, a Chinese building construction firm, in partnership with Twum Boafo and Associates, with financial support from some donor agencies, which were not named.
On that occasion, the minister is reported to have said “the facility which would be ready by December 2006 would not be used as the official residence for the president” but rather “the president would use it as and when he needed to and also host some foreign dignitaries who would visit the country.”
This statement by the minister is considered an under statement by many observers who believe the whole project is a drain on national coffers, especially at a time when many Ghanaians and government itself have bemoaned the lack of accommodation in the country for workers.
A fortnight ago, government announced plans to put up a ¢150billion housing unit, which it described as affordable for 'ordinary' Ghanaian workers, who cannot put up houses on their own, because of their scanty salaries.
The situation has therefore prompted a couple of individuals to raise questions as to the trustworthiness of government and, for that matter, politicians who claim to always have the plight of the people at heart, especially during peak campaign seasons, when they are yearning for political power.
“My friend, what is the sense in this, if government is not going to build but only to renovate a presidential lodge at a cost of ¢129billion for only the president and his family to enjoy, when the same government has voted a few over the said figure to put up what they call affordable housing units for we the downtrodden?” asked a gentleman who gave his name as Enoch Tuffuor.
Further, he noted, “If they think we are fools, their time would surely come in 2008 when we use the ballot box to show them their mistakes because they think whatever they do in government is right as far as they and their family personally benefit.”
According to him, African politicians and for that matter those in Ghana are only bent on exploiting the poor, the very same they so much claim to be fighting for their interest as they always say.
He noted that issues of security for the president would be too flimsy a reason to renovate the lodge since, according to him, the president has more than enough security details at his disposal, more so at the Osu castle.
Another lady lawyer, who spoke to this reporter but pleaded condition of anonymity, expressed worry as to the real reason behind the renovation of the Peduase Lodge since the president would still not be living there, as in the case of the Osu castle, where he claims to be too small to contain him and his family of seven.
“It would be of no use if the place is fixed, because Kufuor would be going there as and when he needed to as said by the minister, they are only wasting the country's lean resources and taxes,” she asserted.
She noted that she is always saddened if these things are going on because state officials only feed on the taxpayers without the least consideration whatsoever.
Another gentleman, who gave his name as Kofi Boye, said the renovation of the facility is in the right direction and that any Ghanaian who criticizes should be seen as unpatriotic since the Lodge is expected to also house foreign dignitaries.