Government has taken the decision to allow a private developer to take over the Saglemi Housing Project, for completion and sale of houses to interested individuals, the Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Assenso-Boakye, has declared.
The move comes after a painstaking assessment, verification and consultation, which indicated that it was more prudent for government to find other ways of completing the project without incurring additional cost to the state.
Taking his turn at the bi-weekly media briefing organised by the Ministry of Information, in Accra, at the weekend, Mr Assenso-Boakye said “Government has decided to explore the possibility of selling the Saglemi Housing Project, covering the 1,506 housing units, at the current value to a private sector entity to complete and sell the housing units to the public, at no further cost to the state”.
He said that throughout the engagements, it became evident that regardless of the option, government would have to provide additional financing to the tune of approximately US$46 million to provide off-site infrastructure, including water, electricity, and storm drain, to make the housing units habitable.
Additionally, the minister explained that there was the need to invest approximately US$68 million to complete the buildings, and other essential on-site infrastructure works.
“What makes the Saglemi Housing Project even more complicated is that, government has already expended approximately US$196 million on the project as has been enumerated earlier, and upon further consideration, government does not intend to expend additional tax-payers money towards the completion of the project,” Mr Assenso-Boakye noted.
The minister said that the proceeds from this sale would go to the State and would be reinvested into Affordable Housing projects.
“In furtherance of the above, and to facilitate the processes, a technical working team has been set-up, comprising professionals and experts to oversee and spearhead all engagements required for the completion of the project. This is being done with the goal of ensuring transparency and accountability, while guaranteeing value for money in the completion of the project,” MrAssenso-Boakye said.
Addressing concerns over the new Rent Act, Mr Assenso-Boakye said a subject that had dominated the housing sector for decades was the regulation of the rental housing market in the country.
He was of the opinion that the existing law was passed by Parliament 59 years ago, and, therefore, had lost it relevance due to the current population growth and urbanisation, housing availability, rental rates, housing redistribution and eviction controls, amongst several other attendant difficulties, that had engulfed the housing sector.
Mr Assenso-Boakye explained that the review was intended to safeguard the rights of vulnerable tenants, who had been out priced by the uncontrollable hikes in the cost of renting accommodation.
Additionally, he said the initiative sought to remove inherent constraints and offer incentives, which would stimulate private sector investment in the rental housing sector.
The minister said that “This will ensure that, property developers are not discouraged from investing in the housing industry by rigid rent control mechanisms, which suppress chargeable rent to artificial levels.”
By Cliff Ekuful