Give Saglemi houses to workers instead of letting them rot away – Organised Labour

Saglemi Project Saglemi housing project

Wed, 3 May 2023 Source: classfmonline.com

Unionised public workers have appealed to government to allocate the 'white elephant' Saglemi houses to them rather than letting it go to waste as is the case currently.

At this year's May Day celebration at the Independence Square in the Greater Accra Region, the Regional Secretary to the Council of Labour, Freda Frimpong, pleaded: "Hon Minister, please do whatever you can to make the Saglemi housing project useful for Ghanaians,” adding: "We cannot allow that project to go to waste when so many workers who have contributed to Ghana’s development cannot have places to lay their heads."

In November 2022, the minority caucus in parliament said the next government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 2025 will take back the project from any private investor who acquires it.

It insists the project must remain a government one so the houses could be sold at affordable rates to public workers – even MPs.

“We are stating our position clear that we wouldn’t want any private developer to come in at all,” the ranking member of the select committee on works and housing, Mr Vincent Oppong Asamoah, told journalists on Tuesday, November 22, 2022, during a tour of the site by the minority members of the committee.

“In 2025, we are very optimistic that the NDC will form the next government, so, any private developer that will partner the government to complete this project; the project will be taken away from him because it should remain affordable and the mortgage system; it should go to the workers of Ghana,” he warned.

He said: “I know the military and other government agencies, even parliament, I tell you, members of parliament will be very very happy to live around this place,” noting: “The environment is so serene.”

“So, we came around for you to know that this government has neglected it and caused so much financial loss to the state [and] the people of Ghana because you have taken shots of what has happened here [removal of doors, burglar proofs and cables]; as to whether it was even organised by the government so that while we see the level of deterioration, that will give them the energy and confidence to tell Ghanaians that the project has failed so that they can sell it to themselves, but, at least, we have seen it; there’s still a way out,” he noted.

The visit revealed that security doors, burglar proofs, power and phone cables have been “stolen” from the housing units.

The caucus’ visit followed an announcement by the Minister of Works and Housing that the government intends to sell the project to a private investor.

Speaking at a press briefing late last year, Mr Asenso-Boakye said that the decision was taken after an assessment of the project and some consultations were done.

According to the minister, the “government will have to provide additional financing to the tune of approximately US$46 million to provide off-site infrastructure, i.e. water, electricity, and storm drainage systems to make the housing units habitable.”

“Additionally, there is the need to invest approximately US$68 million to complete the buildings and other essential on-site infrastructure works,” Mr Asenso-Boakye told journalists.

He said after spending US$196 million on the project, the government has decided against sinking any further taxpayer money into it.

“After a painstaking period of assessment, verification and consultations, the 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,” Mr Asenso-Boakye said.

Mr Asenso-Boakye said the proceeds from the sale would be reinvested into other affordable housing projects.

The minority was, however, suspicious of the government’s intention, thus, its visit to the site on Tuesday, 22 November 2022.

Speaking to the media at the site of the project during the minority's tour, Mr Emmanuel Kwadwo Agyekum, a member of the select committee on works and housing, said the houses were even more habitable than some residences in the prime areas of Accra and wondered why the government abandoned it for so long

“I have not seen double lanes in even in Trasacco, I haven’t seen dual carriageways; in fact, one lane here can take three vehicles. You can see the vegetation here; everything is perfectly done,” he observed.

He said the stripping bare of the buildings could only be an organised crime.

“You see the way the cables are cut off, you have to be professionals to be able to cut these cables,” he noted. “It’s not about any ordinary thief moving in to say: ‘I’m going in to steal’. Even removing the windows, it will take them more than one month to remove all the windows here [and] all the burglarproof."

Source: classfmonline.com
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