In 2012, the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government began the construction of the Saglemi Affordable Housing project at Prampram in the Ningo Prampram District of the Greater Accra Region.
The facility was meant to be a 5000-residential unit facility to ease the accommodation deficit in the country.
It sits on a 300-acre land with one to three-bedroom flats for low-income earners.
Phase One of the US$200 million project saw the construction of 180 blocks comprising over 1,500 flats.
The then Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, on January 4, 2013, under its former Minister, Collins Dauda signed the Engineering Procurement and Construction Agreement with Messers Constructora OAS Ghana Limited, after parliamentary approval was granted on October 13, 2012.
Soon after the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power, the project has become a matter of controversy, following years of abandonment.
Former Housing Minister, Samuel Atta Akyea explained that the deal was botched following acts of embezzlement by past NDC government officials.
The stalling of the project, he said was to investigate allegations of procurement breaches following the value for money audit which showed that the country has been short-changed.
He reiterated on a number of occasions that legal processes had been initiated to have those officials face criminal prosecution to retrieve monies lost to the state.
It emerged in 2017 that the Ministry of Works and Housing reviewed the “Second Amended and Restated Agreement and signed the “Third Amended and Restated EPC Agreement without authorization which led to a reduction of the contract price of US$181,081,000.00”.
Letter to AG for termination
Due to the imminent financial loss to the state, Samuel Atta Akyea, in a letter to the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s Department in November 2018, sought advice on the possible termination of the contract.
On May 8, 2018, the Department, through its former head, Gloria Akuffo responded and concluded that “since the agreement expired in June 2017, there can be no termination of a non-existent agreement as requested by the Ministry.
There were reports that key contract documents were missing or had inconsistencies.
The government believed there was a misappropriation of funds in the project, resulting in shoddy work.
Mr. Atta Akyea had accused a former Works and Housing Minister, Collins Dauda, of altering the original agreement for the Saglemi housing project without recourse to Parliament.
He claimed that after Parliament passed the agreement in October 2012 for the construction of 5,000 housing units, the then minister reviewed the contract scaling down the number of units to some 1,500 units and later to 1,024 units after another review in 2016.
Commitment to complete project
The government has come under scrutiny over the failure to operationalize the housing units completed as of 2016.
But current Minister for Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, has said the government is committed to completing the housing project.
He said investors and engineers on the project will be engaged before government arrives at a completion date for the project.
The Minister said though the Saglemi housing project is a good idea, the design and implementation were wrongfully done.
According to the Minister, his outfit is also in the process of validating an audit report put together by the Ghana Institution of Surveyors on the deal.
Francis Asenso-Boakye stated that the validation is being done by Architectural and Engineering Services Limited, an agency under his ministry.
The Ghana Institution of Surveyors report commissioned by the former sector minister Mr. Atta Kyea raised concerns about the decision to revise the number of housing units from 5,000 to 1,502.
It also made some corruption allegations which are matters of investigation by the police.
However, the exercise commissioned by Mr. Asenso-Boakye seeks to validate the issues raised in the first report including the $32 million required to complete the project.
Mr. Asenso-Boakye, in announcing the validation exercise, said the Attorney General had recommended for the issue to be referred to the Criminal Investigations Department of Police for further probe.