Accra, Jan. 11, GNA - A sod-cutting ceremony took place at Kpone, near Tema, for a 450 billion-cedi housing project under which high-rise affordable houses would be built for low-income groups. The Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang who cut the sod, said the project, which is expected to be executed in two phases, included the construction of 500 units of single bedroom units and 1,400 two-bedroom types.
"The phase two would comprise the development of 178 cluster of one and three bungalow house types with expandable two bedroom semi-detached flats."
He said additional amenities such as Police stations, worship facilities, primary, junior and secondary schools, playgrounds, open space, parking lodge, recreational and commercial centres to serve the neighbourhood would be provided.
Mr Owusu-Agyemang noted that the units would either be sold or rented, as the Government was aware that not everybody could afford to buy or own a house.
He stated that the Government would put in place an effective mechanism to make sure that middlemen were not entertained so that the houses would be owner-occupier.
"We realise that most often people buy or rent the flats and sublet them to those who genuinely need accommodation. We strongly believe this practice must stop."
The Minister consequently indicated that a dedicated company would be charged to manage the project on behalf of the Government to ensure that the project was maintained.
Mr Owusu-Agyemeng said the Government had so far released 57 billion cedis out of the 150 billion cedis allocated for housing projects in the 2005 budget. He said the Ministry of Finance had agreed to give out the arrears and make additional 300 billion cedis available. He said the Government was talking with African Development Bank and Barclays Bank to arrange mortgage purchase for prospective buyers. The Minister noted that the move was to ensure that President John Agyekum Kufuor's plan of ensuring that people of low-level income groupings owned their houses materialised.
He indicted that plans were underway to ensure that the project was replicated in Kumasi and possibly sent to all the regions by the end of the year.
"To avoid degradation of the environment, the Densu River will be dredged and the sand used for the construction of the houses." Mr Ernest Banning of Modula Group, Consultants to the Project, expressed optimism that the project would be completed on schedule, as there was enough seed capital to take-off.
Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the Ministry endorsed and supported of the project and would continue to render the necessary help.
Nii Tetteh Otu, Paramount Chief of Kpone, pleaded with the Government to stick to the building design to make maximum use of the land for posterity to benefit from it.