Seek specified selling prices of building materials for all

The Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, yesterday toured cement companies operating in Tema, namely

Diamond Cement Group, GHACEM Limited and Dzata Cement.

 As expected, the minister made some remarks, including the fact that the government was in discussions with cement-manufacturing companies in the country for the provision of cement at discounted price for the implementation of its affordable housing programme.

The minister said the success or failure of the programme would, among other things, depend on the ability of the companies to supply enough cement and at affordable rates.

He rightly stated that cement is a major component of housing construction and so its adequate supply and affordability cannot be ignored and indicated that the government was working to propose a specified selling price of the cement.

The companies expressed the desire to align their operations with the government’s policies to address housing challenges in the country.

The Ghanaian Times thinks the minister’s assertions must be subjected to scrutiny in the interest of the many who are not able to make their voices heard in the corridors of the poor.

Does the government think of the countless Ghanaians who buy cement at cut-throat prices to provide housing for themselves, thereby not putting pressure on the state for a place to lay their heads?

Is this not showing insensitivity to the plight of the people, which has been the case for, at least, the last four decades?

If the cement companies wish to reduce the price of their product for the government to provide housing units for the privilege few, is their action not a disservice to the masses?

Let the Ministry of Works and Housing come out with a list of those who have benefited from affordable housing units over the years for the whole of the country to ascertain the beneficiaries.

We are living in a country where affordable housing is usually truly affordable to only politicians, some other public officials and their cronies.

It is sad that instead of speaking to the challenges raised by the cement companies, including high import charges and short supply of limestone, the minister rather asked them to consider opportunities to expand the production capacities for known local building materials, such as the Pozzolana cement and explore the use of other locally-available materials in the production of cement.

His suggestion was based on the fact that approximately US$350 million is spent annually to import about 85 per cent of raw materials to produce cement and that up to US$30 million could be saved on the importation of these materials by increasing the production and use of Pozzolana cement.

It is on record that with the shortage of affordable housing in the country, Pozzolana cement provides a superior building product at a reduced cost of construction.

If this is the case, why did successive governments not support

Pozzolana Ghana Limited (PGL), the country’s only licensed producer of Pozzolana cement to thrive such that the housing minister would have gone to PGL for the support he is now seeking from the other cement factories?

Can the minister show the whole world just one public facility or a property owned by a politician in the country built of Pozzolana cement?

Even if the government wants to buy cement at affordable price, then the people deserve better and so the government should show commitment to making prices of building materials affordable to reduce the strain on the people who are making efforts to provide their own accommodation.

Also, let affordable housing units go to those who truly deserve them, not people who hijack them because of some power they wield.

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