Former President John Mahama, who was the Vice President and later the President in 2012 when the controversial Saglemi Housing Project commenced, is livid over the delay in completing it. This is because 1,560 units out of the entire 5,000 which he inaugurated in June 2016 have been “abandoned” by the Akufo-Addo government.
In a post on his social media handles on Monday, August 7, 2023 John Mahama chastised the government for prioritising the construction of a National Cathedral over the Saglemi housing project.
He said that it was “unacceptable for Akufo-Addo to spend over half a billion cedis on a National Cathedral project that has ultimately failed due to corruption and is now abandoned, yet refuses to commit funds to complete a housing project that will benefit thousands of Ghanaian families.”
He continued that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government intentionally abandoned the Saglemi housing project “simply because it was initiated by John Mahama and the NDC administration.
“The misplaced priorities of a government that claims it is unable to raise money to complete the Saglemi housing project and yet is willing to spend half a billion cedis on the largest civil excavation in Africa is a humiliating slap in the face of Ghanaians who entrusted Akufo Addo with their mandate.
“Just think about the countless number of Ghanaian families who could have had decent living conditions over the past 7 years and the individuals who could have had a place to truly call home in Saglemi,” he wrote.
The facility was meant to be a 5,000-unit residential complex with one- to three-bedroom flats for low-income earners. The entire 5,000 units were to sit on 300 acres of land. Phase one of the US$200 million project saw the construction of 180 blocks comprising 1,506 flats.
In June 2016, when Mr. Mahama was addressing the ceremony to inaugurate the 1,506 flats, he took a swipe at the then opposition NPP, saying that they “refused to see and they said these buildings are Photoshop.”
Mahama promised to organise an excursion for critics to witness at firsthand the project at Saglemi and corroborate what was contained in the famous Green Book.
“We cut the sod a few years ago for work to begin, and work has been ongoing. It is supposed to be the first phase, which is 1,500 housing units; the entire project is 5,000 units and we started with 1,500 units. These are some of the 1,500 units you can see physically.
“I’m saying physically because there are some people who see but refuse to see, and they said these buildings are Photoshop. After this visit, I don’t know what else they will do; maybe they will photoshop the building behind me as I stand here, but these are real.”
He said, “If they like, I can organise an excursion for them to come here and see for themselves what is happening here.”
Meanwhile, upon assuming office and assessing the status of the project, the Akufo-Addo government was convinced that the 1,506 housing units that Mahama inaugurated in June, before being voted out in December 2016 were not habitable.
According to government, the facility lacked basic amenities to ensure comfortability for the residents and thus, it set out to right the wrong.
Speaking at the ceremony to break ground for the construction of 8,000 housing units in Pokuase last Tuesday, President Akufo-Addo said the government would have incurred more debt in an attempt to complete the Saglemi Housing Project.
“We are aware of the delays and setbacks encountered during the execution of this project. The issues about the scope of work and the money expended on the Saglemi project have been taken to the Criminal Investigations Division of the Ghana Police Service for investigation, which has resulted in criminal judicial proceedings.
“However, in the meantime, to forestall the project from deteriorating, the Minister of Works and Government has actively engaged the government, cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and the office of the Attorney General on the completion of the project.
“It has been established that in addition to the $198 million already expended on the project, the government has to raise additional funding to the tune of $46 million to complete the infrastructural works. That is for water, electricity and drains to mitigate flooding.
“Further, $68 million is required to complete the buildings and other essential onsite infrastructure works like the waste holding bay, sewage treatment plants and the development of socio-economic and civic infrastructure such as basic schools, clinics and shops,” he stated.
The government, after satisfying itself on the initial investment and the additional funds required, directed the Ministry of Works and Housing on October 31, 2022, to explore the possibility of “disposing off” the project covering the 1,506 housing units.
It was to be disposed off at its current value to a private sector entity to complete and sell the housing units to the public at no further cost to the government.
The government has decided, according to the Minister for Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, who also spoke at the Pokuase event, to “re-invest” the proceeds to be realised from the sale into affordable housing projects.
In November 2022, a technical working group consisting of representatives from various state and independent professional institutions was inaugurated to draw a roadmap to procure a private sector entity to complete the Saglemi Housing project.
The public procurement authority has granted approval for the ministry to engage the Ghana Institution of Surveyors to determine the current value of the project and also engage a transactional advisor to facilitate the sale.
It has been projected that the current value of the project will be determined no later than September 30, 2023.
A Transactional Advisor would be engaged not later than October 30, 2023, and procurement of a private sector entity to complete the project would be completed not later than June 2024.