Business News of 2014-08-05

No credit sale of govt houses — SSNIT warns

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has served notice that it will not sell the government’s ‘affordable’ housing units at Borteyman in Accra on credit as it is being anticipated.

The units, according to the Trust, will be on outright sale and all interested applicants can contact SSNIT for further details.

The Corporate Affairs Manager of SSNIT, Ms. Eva Amegashie, in an answer to a question posed by the GRAPHIC BUSINESS when journalists were taken on a familiarisation tour of the project in Accra, explained that provisions had been made for interested applicants who do not have the outright funds to do so through a mortgage scheme.

The move by the Trust is expected to push out many below the middle class, including hosts of civil and public servants, who have anticipated acquiring some of the flats.

From the foregoing and the posture of SSNIT, it is clear that the meagre monthly salaries of the civil and public servants will not be enough to enable them to take up mortgages to acquire any of the so called ‘affordable houses.’

The project started in 2005 and was initially targeted at civil and public servants but was stalled in 2009 due to lack of funds from the government.

As a result, the uncompleted units were handed over to SSNIT in March, this year, to enable it to complete them for onward sale to government workers.

SSNIT had earlier made its intentions clear that it was no longer interested in venturing into the real estate business due to the unfortunate experiences the Trust encountered with the housing projects it undertook at Dansoman, Sakumono and other areas across the country.

But pressure from the government in its quest to save its face from the embarrassment and pressure from the public to complete the houses compelled SSNIT to take up the project.

Should SSNIT take the bold decision it has announced to ensure that it recoups its investments in the project in the interest of the pension scheme it runs, it will be for a good reason.

“If you don’t have the money, there are mortgage finance houses to whom you can go when you want to buy estate houses,” she explained.

On the issue of affordability, Ms Amegashie explained that “affordability is subjective. If you want to live in a house, you should be ready to pay. SSNIT’s money is workers’ pension contribution and we have to pay back when we invest.”

Her answer to the question on ‘affordability’ gives a clear indication of what pertains on the real estate market where developers brand their houses as affordable, yet the prices can only meet the pockets of the middle to upper class.

Again, with the cedi depreciating against the United States Dollar in the manner it is presently, it will be difficult for the initial targeted people to buy the flats.

Prices of the project

It is not clear how much the Trust will cost each flat but from the experiences of the sale of the Adenta Flats recently, it is clear that a single bedroom flat might go for not less than GH¢50,000 while the two-bedroom is also likely to range between GH¢70,000 and GH¢80,000.

The Adenta flats were sold for a minimum of GH¢70,000.

Work so far

A total of 1,536 apartments are being constructed under the project.

The project is expected to be completed within 18 months (September 2015) and will consist of 744 one-bedroom and 792 two-bedroom apartments.

A visit to the construction site by a team of journalists on Thursday, July 31 revealed on-going works on the 104 blocks, with each at a different stage of completion.

The team was conducted round the facility by the project Engineer, Mr Joseph Allotey Kofi, who explained that apart from the rooms, a commercial area had been earmarked where recreational centres, schools and a clinic would be built for occupants of the project.

According to him, occupants would be assured of electricity, water and a sewage treatment plant as well as retail shops on some of the blocks.

Completion of project

Ms Amegashie said it would be difficult to bluntly say that the entire Borteyman project would be completed within the expected 18 months deadline.

“It is difficult to indicate the percentage of completion because they just moved on to site and even some of the contractors are not even on site.

Some of the buildings are at the first story level, others at plastering and some are also being painted,” she explained.

This, therefore, means that the completion of the units will depend on the stage where work began.

Currently, there are 37 contractors on site with a workforce of 453 who commenced work between June and July 2014.

Twenty additional contractors would be engaged to expedite the execution process.

Ms Amegashie also explained that upon completion of the Borteyman project, the other affordable housing projects at Asokore-Mampong in Kumasi, Koforidua, Tamale and Wa, which were handed over to SSNIT, would be attended to.

The affordable housing project forms part of government’s intervention to reduce the country’s spiralling housing deficit which is currently estimated at about 1.7 million.

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