Speed up completion of all affordable houses

BY: Daily Graphic

The basic necessities of life have often been named as food, clothing and shelter, without which man struggles to survive.

Although many in the world manage to find some amount of food and clothing, the need for housing is never met by many throughout their life on earth.

In some countries, affordable housing is provided, enabling citizens to find decent accommodation.

But lack of affordable housing in Ghana has pushed land prices to spiral out of control, fuelled by an influx of non-resident Ghanaians and foreigners who have out-priced the indigenes.

This has led to housing shortage in the country, hitting new record levels of two million.

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That is why today many residential areas across the country that boast so many ‘luxury’ and ‘executive’ pads have not been spared the rapid surge of slum settlements, mostly occupied by the products of urbanisation.

For a country still aspiring to reach an average per capita income of $1,500 a year by 2025, housing shortage has become a major nightmare for the government.

It is for this reason that it has announced an ambitious plan to establish a GH¢1 billion mortgage and housing finance to leverage private capital, while providing affordable housing for Ghanaians.

The construction of 250,000 affordable housing units across the country is part of measures to wipe out the two-million housing unit deficit, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, has announced.

He also gave an assurance that the government would complete all affordable housing projects started by successive governments.

Mr Akyea gave the information when he took his turn to address the meet-the-press series in Accra.

He said the ongoing project formed part of an eight-year government affordable housing project to deliver 250,000 housing units a year to address the housing deficit.

He appealed to the public not to worry over delivery timelines for the project because the government was considering modern technologies, such as prefabrication that facilitated construction within days and months.

Since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1993, various governments have had one kind of a housing project or another to accommodate the growing working population.

Mr Rawlings started with the SSNIT flats in parts of the country, while Mr Kufuor also contributed to the housing stock with the affordable housing project in parts of the country.

The late Professor John Evans Atta Mills also contributed to bridge the housing gap with the construction of 30,000 housing units for Ghana's security services, while Mr Mahama added to the stock with the Saglemi housing project.

But in all of these, the paper is at pains to say that a lot of those projects are halfway through construction, abandoned by successive political regimes or completed but not occupied.

This is a cost to taxpayers and ordinary citizens who need decent accommodation, at least to start life.

Most often, the refrain by the political elite is that projects that commenced under a previous regime are tainted with corruption and so have to be investigated before being occupied.

But beneath that chorus is the fear that the previous regime will take credit for the project it had initiated, which has a political advantage.

The Daily Graphic urges the government to complete all uncompleted housing projects, as promised by the minister, before embarking on new ones.

Where it feels that a project is tainted with corruption, it should allow the project to be occupied while it investigates to punish the corrupt culprits.

Surely, one of the ways to reduce the housing deficit is to complete all outstanding projects and make sure they are fully utilised.

That way, the housing deficit in the country can be bridged and we will have the full benefit of our investment in the housing sector.