Don’t Play Lightly with Judgment Debts
The reasons given by Mr. Samuel Atta-Akyea, the Minister for Works and Housing, for seeking to abrogate the Saglemi Housing Project, estimated to have cost the Ghanaian taxpayer some $180 million (USD), may be very reasonable and even understandable, but they are definitely not adequate to avoid the possibility of the contractor bringing up charges of bad faith before any legitimately constituted court of the land (See “We Intend to Terminate Saglemi Housing Project Contract – Atta-Akyea” Ghanaweb.com 4/22/19).
In the main, the Works and Housing Minister says that this project, which is scheduled to produce some 5,000 units of affordable houses of between one- and three-bedroom apartments, with about 1,500 units already completed, and whose first phase of the latter number of units was commissioned by ex-President John Dramani Mahama in the leadup to the 2008 general election, lacks such basic utility essentials as water and electricity, as well as drainage systems. Now, needless to say, it was clearly and inexcusably irresponsible on the part of the former President to have apparently rushed to commission the partial completion of a project that decidedly lacked the aforementioned basic amenities, that make it clearly seem that the Saglemi Housing Project was one of the typically infamous shlocky electioneering campaign projects that are invariably far more aimed at winning votes than easing the widely remarked acute housing shortage in the country.
The preceding notwithstanding, equally irresponsible would be Mr. Atta-Akyea’s decision to terminate the Saglemi Housing Project, unless the Works and Housing Minister could also convincingly demonstrate that there is absolutely no way in which such basic amenities, as have already been listed above in this column, could be added to or retrofitted into the already completed portion of the project, with the yet-to-be-completed phases of this project pre-equipped with these amenities that are, reportedly, woefully lacking in the first phase of the project. At any rate, the Works and Housing Minister could very well argue convincingly that there has clearly been a breach in the original contract initialed between the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the contractor of the Saglemi Housing Project, that is, assuming that, indeed, the previous regime’s operatives had been savvy enough to have included the missing utility items in the original contractual package.
But, of course, in a legitimately constituted court of adjudicature, the equally legitimate question could arise as to whether the present Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had given the contractor the opportunity to rectify any defects that may be detracting from the integrity or wholesomeness of the ongoing Saglemi Housing Project, and also whether such rectification as was needed to make the 1,500 housing units could be cost-effectively done or will not further inflate the original value of the contract. This may, indeed, be some of the reasons why the Works and Housing Minister may have decided to forward the Saglemi Housing Project’s contract to Attorney-General Gloria Akuffo, prior to any action or final decision being taken over whether to thoroughly abrogate the contract or allow it to be carried through to completion.
Ultimately, what the Saglemi Housing Project, in its present apparently shoddy execution, tells the longsuffering Ghanaian taxpayer is the fact that those who signed the contract on behalf of the latter woefully lacked the requisite common sense, responsibility and patriotism for the country, and do not seem to have come to their comfortable and generously-salaried jobs with the same sense of meticulously concern with which they would have attended the same, if the monetary value or sum earmarked for the project had come out of their own individual wallets or bank accounts. It is the invariably inexpedient bickering over such reckless execution of contracts by the key operatives of the country’s two major political parties that have unnecessarily resulted in the diarrheal and equally irresponsible handing down of judgment-debt decisions by many a Ghanaian-born and bred justice of our superior courts.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
April 22, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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