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17.05.2019 Feature Article

The 'Evil Doers' Have Stolen From Saglemi

The 'Evil Doers' Have Stolen From Saglemi
MAY 17, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

Saglemi, Saglemi Saglemi!!!

You've been wounded three times, just three miles away from my neighbourhood.

What did you do to deserve this?

Comrade, I did them no wrong.

The Angels are my witness. They came like the former European traders. They'd Bibles in their right hands while the left clutched guns.

I opened my doors wide for them.

My arms stretched as wide as the Eagle's.

We hugged, we laughed and we broke bread together. But I'd no idea what they'd concealed in their hearts and minds.

They stole from me.

They stole all my wealth and now my future looks bleak. My day turned night. And my fate remains unknown

Take heart my friend. I've come to assure you that you'll not die young. You'll live to see your futuristic beauty. You'll rise like ashes.

Spring like mushrooms and float like balloons.

But remember this:

This was said about biblical Israel:

"Let their habitation be desolate, let none dwell in their tents," (KJV).

I heard similar statement echoed the walls of the Information Ministry Building in Accra on Thursday. The Soprano with his unique Sopranic voice seemed to have captured the eyes and ears of his curious audience.

He appeared somehow distraught.

His voice cracked as he grudgingly pronounced the following words:

"We won't be able to takeover the project unless we've the opinion of the Attorney-General who's the principal legal advisor of the government."

Why?

The enemies have done it again.

They've literally stolen from Saglemi.

They were up to no good.

They meant evil.

They're saboteurs.

They're enemies of the nation.

They're like vampires.

They're Zombies.

They're weasels and they're merciless.

They cared less about Saglemi's futuristic beauty.

Saglemi you are not alone in this.

Take a listen to Samuel Atta Akyea, Minister of Works and Housing as he names a number of projects that have gone wrong.

First, he's expected to reject a contract termination request by contractor behind the 5,000 Saglemi affordable housing project, Constratora OAS Gh. Ltd.

Already the Attorney-General has advised the Ministry,. It's understood the contract expired in 2017, rendering the contractor’s request null and void.

The advice follows several unfulfilled expectations in another expensive government attempt to provide affordable housing.

At Saglemi, only 1,412 houses have been completed within the duration of the contract from January 3, 2014, to June 2017.

The agreement approved by Parliament has also been varied several times. First on February 27, 2014, nearly two months into the contract, the number of houses to be built was now stated as 1,502 houses.

The next amendment would come on December 21, 2016. This time the 1,502 houses were to be built in three different stages.

In all the variations, one thing remained unchanged. The cost of the project - $200m.

Isn't that ridiculous?

The minister said by the time government changed hands in January 2017, the contractor had been paid $179.9m.

Even the revised target of 1,502 was not met.

Only 1,412 houses had been built.

Constratora OAS Gh. Ltd has written to government expressing disinterest in continuing the project. It is now only interested in compensation for unfulfilled government obligations.

In a March 8 letter, the Directors of the company, Charles Maia Galvao and Ricardo Rocha Ulm da Silva, said they suffered from additional costs after government variations to the constructions.

The additional costs were the result of the disruptions caused by tax exemptions not fully conceded by government which eventually caused delays in project execution.

But government has been advised to rather seek compensation from Constratora OAS Gh. Ltd.

The letter from the A-G read in part, Ministry may seek “refund of all overpayments as well as interests subject to the conduct of value-for-money-audit.”

Do we know how much government may request in compensation?

And do we also know how much the contractor will demand in compensation?

We've no idea as the issue is at its fluid stage.

The report signed by Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo, said all the variations in the original agreement did not have Parliamentary approval and could not have been legally binding.

She also faulted a Chief Director at the Works and Housing Ministry, Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu, for approving the variations without authorisation by the Minister as provided by State Property and Contracts Act.

The A-G said it had received no valid explanation for the contract variations and noted crimes may have committed in the government-financed scheme to make housing affordable.

She has advised that the controversial project be referred to criminal investigations organs of government.

Another housing project contract has ended with buildings uncompleted.

Under President John Agyekum Kufuor, a similar project, only more expensive, began in 2006 and was to be completed by December 2007 at a cost of $300m.

There were several other project sites, Kumasi in the Ashanti region, Koforidua in the Eastern region, Borteman and Kpone in the Greater Accra region.

Some 1,640 low-cost housing units were to sit on 300 acres of Kpone land. The works on the two other sites were to bring the total housing project to 4,700 units.

Funds for the project from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) as well as HIPC funds for the project have run out.

It's reported that reptiles and squatters have taken over those housing units since a new administration was ushered in 2009.

Ironically, the Mahama government did not continue the project. It started a new one.

And that new project has also a white elephant-- virtually abandoned.

Meanwhile, the current government has secured $51m to now complete the old one under Kufuor administration.

Mr. Atta Akyea also revealed that the housing deficit which was thought to be around 500,000 housing units is now believed to be 1.7m.

Gordon Offin-Amaniampong
Gordon Offin-Amaniampong, © 2019

This author has authored 274 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: GordonOffinAmaniampong

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