One thousand affordable housing units that were heralded with sod-cutting fanfare on 18th July 2007 in Sombo, in the Wa Municipality of Upper West Region, has been abandoned and bushes grown over the foundation structures.
The then Minister for Water Resources Works & Housing, Mr Hackman Owusu Agyemang, led a government delegation to cut the sod for the commencement of the housing project over 10 years ago, but its intended purpose to mitigate Ghana’s chronic housing deficiencies have been left at its footing stage to rot.
The project was started as part of Ghana’s efforts to address its housing deficit which was around 500,000 in 2006 but has currently swelled and ranges from 1.7 to 2 million as at January 2018, according to housing experts.
The GNA checks indicate that documents on the 1,000 housing projects in Sombo could not be traced, a reason, sources say made the contractor to flee the site.
When contacted, Mr Kayim Daniel, the Works Superintendent at the public works department of the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council, could not provide details on the project.
“I don’t have any idea about the existence of that project hence I cannot say anything about it,” he told the GNA.
When Ghana News Agency visited the site, most of the foundations had deep cracks while the iron rods in some of the pillars exposed to vagaries of the weather with some structures springing up around the area.
The project site were surrounded with grasses, chips stones and heap of sands while some other pipes believed to be plumbing pipes were also deformed as a the materials were exposed to the harsh weather.
Mr Sulemana Alhassan, the Suspended Upper West Regional Minister on Friday January 4, 2018 at a Press Soiree at his residency in Wa said there were no documents relating to the project.
“When the present government assumed office, there was no record on the affordable housing project ongoing in the Upper West Region and we were asked to source land for a new project to be started in the Region,” he said: “A delegation was sent to come and see the stage and status of the project.”
He said government was fully aware of the dire state of the project and would soon advertise for contractors bid for it after repackaging.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of Danywise Estate and Construction, Mr Frank Aboagye Danyansah, told the GNA that Ghana’s mounting housing deficit would require over $34 billion to address it if practical steps were not taken to address the current situation.
“Our housing deficit has reached 1.7 million units which is expected to reach two million by 2018 and we would need about 34 billion dollars to fix it for the next 10 years,” he said.
He urged the sector minister to revise the country’s tax laws on affordable housing in order to quash discretion powers given to the Minister.
The current law states among other things that before one could build affordable housing, it ought to be in consultation with the Sector Minister and the Minister of Finance.
But the law does not spell out modalities that qualify a company or a person venturing into the housing construction.
“Which I think is an avenue for corruption and will encourage loot and share,” Mr Danyansah told the GNA on Wednesday.
He urged the Ministry for Works and Housing to focus on addressing challenges in the estate sector to close the demand and supply gap
He also advised the Akuffo-Addo’s administration to look at ways of finishing the housing units started several years ago as part of austerity measures to fight joblessness in the country.