The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea has debunked claims in some quarters that government has abandoned the Sagleme Housing Project initiated by the erstwhile administration, leaving it to rot.
According to him, the project was fraught with a number of challenges which bothered on law, criminality and in some instance measurements in relation to cost for which reason it had been referred to the Attorney General’s (AG) Office.
To this end he said a decision would be taken on whether to go ahead and abrogate the contract and rearward it for the completion of the project immediately the AG proffers its advice.
“Sagleme has serious challenges, very serious challenges and some of them I mean bothers on law, some have got to do with criminality and you needed to leave it with the Attorney General and what is even serious is that some of them have issues with measurement in relation to cost.”
Speaking to journalists at the Wednesday edition of bi-weekly briefings organized by the Ministry of Information in Accra, Mr Akyea said in 2002, the government of President Kuffour acquired more than 2172acres of land at Sagleme in the Dangbe East District of the Greater Accra for some housing project.
He said in 2012 government awarded a contract worth $200million to Messers Constutoral OS Ghana Limited, a Brazilian company that got incorporated in Ghana to construct 5000 housing units on the land.
“The President of the Republic of Ghana per the office of the President’s letter dated August 15, 2012 granted executive approval to the Ministry of Works and Housing for the construction of 5000 affordable housing units for sale to the general public through mortgage provided by Ghana Home Loans and implemented by Messers Constutoral OS Ghana Limited through a buyers credit of $200million pending parliamentary approval,” he enumerated.
According to him on Friday, October 12, 2012 parliament granted approval for the construction of 5000 housing units for the sale to the general public, however, on January 4, 2013 the Ministry signed the engineering procurement and construction agreement with the company to undertake the project.
However, the contract agreement did not state the number of housing units to be constructed even though this contract sum was inclusive of consultancy fee, bank charges and excluding applicable taxes and duties as indicated in the agreement.
“Parliament has approved that $200million less than charges should be used to build 5000 houses, but something happened on the 12th February 2014. Without parliamentary approval, the parties that is my ministry, representing the Government of Ghana (GoG) and the contractor reviewed the original contract and signed what they call first and restated agreement to define the number of houses to be constructed,” he said.
Mr Akyea noted that the new contract reduced the number of housing units from the initial 5000unit to 1502units and yet the price of the contract sum remained the same, stressing that “and this was the time of Honourable Collins Dauda.”
Describing it as cold facts, he said while parliament had approved for 5000housing units at the cost of $200million, the Minister together with the company reduced the housing unit to 1502 but the contract sum remained the same.
“It means that by that singular act, Ghanaians were short changed in terms of housing units in the neighbourhood of 3498 housing units and if we want to do simple arithmetic, then it means that if you are supposed to roll out 1502 housing units, then the contract sum should be less,” he emphasized.
He said more disturbing was the fact that on December 21, 2016 when President Mahama had lost power, the Chief Director of the Ministry Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu and the contractor reviewed the first amended restated agreement and signed another agreement in which the scope of works was further reduced to 1,024housing units at a new cost of $181,519,000.
“The records reflect that Messers Constutoral OS Ghana Limited in early 2014 started work at the project site. One document we found which was very explicit that there was no confusion in the mind of GoG as to the housing unit to be rolled out is the escrow management account document,” he said.
The Minister who said there was no need to play propaganda with the issue of housing stated that the original EPC contract was expected to be completed on March 1, 2016, however, the contactor failed and this necessitated that the contract period be extended.
He said as a result, the contract was extended to August 31 2016, however, he once again failed to deliver, adding that “This project never had poverty of funds as we are experiencing now. The whole amount of $200million was put in an escrow account to bank roll the project.
Touching on how the monies were disbursed, he said the total disbursement made by the employer that is GoG on the project to date was $195854969.52.
He said these were evidence based and there were documentary support for it, adding that “The contractor Messers Constutoral OS Ghana Limited had received a total of $179904757.78, the consultants who were doing the supervisory works were paid $2,550.000. There is a company called Risk Management Solutions which came in later in time, they took $8,662,029.20 and some amount of money went to a Brazilian Company in the neigbhourhood of $4,738,182.54.
Mr. Akyea noted that government was committed providing housing for Ghanaians and would continue with any project initiated by the previous administration; however that would be done when they satisfied all the legal and contractual agreements.
By Cliff Ekuful