Many individuals and private developers, in Ghana, put up buildings, (houses, shops, offices, factories, etc) without the required building permits. And, in most cases, there would be no inspection of the buildings throughout the construction period by any building official, be it from the Metropolitan, Municipal or District Assemblies (MMDAs) as required by Legislative Instrument (LI) 1630.
The Local Government Act, 1993(Act 462) and National Building Regulation, 1996, (LI 1630), mandate all developers, both individual and institutional, to notify the MMDAs before starting any construction work to allow building professionals to grant permits and to inspect the project throughout the construction period.
Among others, these inspectors are required to inspect excavation work in preparation of the house’s footings, inspection of all the framing work, inspection of concrete slabs, interior plumbing and electrical systems, as well as foundation basement.
The inspectors are supposed to inspect the building and order changes if necessary.
Prior to that, it is required of the applicant or the developer to satisfy the planning authority that he/she has good title to the land relevant to the building plan.
According to the Local Government Act, within three months, the Assembly shall notify the applicant whether the application has been approved or refused.
And, if after three months passed and the applicant has not received any feedback from the Assembly, he/she can proceed to put up the building since it would be considered the documents are acceptable.
But, it is interesting to note that many developers in Ghana are guilty of the above Act and, the fact being attributed to laxity on the part of the authorities.
Many individual developers resort to employing informal workers (artisans without certificates) for their construction work which, in many instances, end up compromising on design details leading to future defects and eventual collapse of the buildings in some cases.
It is in view of this that there is the need for the authorities to always hit the ground running, but sadly enough, no inspection or monitoring is carried out by any official, especially on building of houses mostly by individuals who face the ‘knock-backs’ of landlords/ landladies.
In fact, obtaining building permits before construction takes off, cannot be overemphasized.
A valuation expert, Paul Cobbinah, indicated that it allows the inspectors and construction managers to reduce risks of unsafe construction to provide safety, public health and welfare stressing some even build in swampy places.
Acquiring such is perceived to be one of the most significant steps in any kind of a construction project.
According to Mr Cobbinah, “it ensures that clients protect the outcome and the ‘high’ investment value of the building project, and confirms that the construction building codes are being followed and met during construction and your project would be developed in the right manner, adhering to safety rules and have a long standing”
The Physical Planning Officer of the Asante Akim South District Assembly, William Afriyie, admitted the failure of the Assemblies to do monitoring and inspection, which warranted the developers to do their own thing without permit.
He cited inadequate logistics such as lack of vehicles for transporting monitors, engineers and others to monitor and inspect works at various constructions sites which has been discouraging officers to carry on their monitoring duties.
Going forward, he said the Planning Department of the Asante Akim South District Assembly has been working vigorously, these days, to make sure things were done properly in the 198 communities under the District.
He said the district has intensified its public education to sensitize developers on the need to do the right thing before going ahead to erect buildings and structures and as such are considering “bringing the Assembly” to the doorsteps of the community for new developers or those who had already started their constructions to be processed.
“We are going to move from community to community to encourage developers to process the permit grant”, he noted.
Mr Dennis Agyarko, an estate developer and owner of D-AG Constructions in Kumasi, on his part said some developers and property owners erected buildings and structures without permit because of long process they go through to obtain it.
“The long process of obtaining permit discouraged developers and the public to follow due process to the latter”, he intoned, and urged the Assemblies to put measures in place to expedite action on permit grant for building.
An individual developer at Ejisu, Maame Yaa Serwaa, commended the Ejisu Municipal Assembly for bringing the exercise of getting permit to the door steps of landowners in some parts of the communities which had enabled her to start the process.
However, she said it had taken her almost 12 years to do that as she went through some difficult bureaucracy at the Assembly when she wanted to start the process, somewhere in 2007, and that put her off.
Another individual developer at Aboaso, near Mamponteng, Jennifer Osei, wondered the kind of inspection the Assemblies undertake saying “I got mine (permit) before starting, but I tell you, no one came to the site till the building was completed”.
BY KINGSLEY E. HOPE