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Saglemi housing contractor short-changed Ghana - Atta Akyea

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, has accused Contratora OAS Ghana Limited, the contractor building the affordable houses at Saglemi, near Tsopoli, in the Ningo-Prampram District in the Greater Accra Region of short-changing the country.

He alleged that the due deligence conducted by the Housing Ministry had established that a former Minister responsible for the sector, Mr Collins Dauda, reviewed the contract terms with the contractor to deliver 1,502 housing units, instead of the original 5,000 units without recourse to Parliament.

According to Mr Akyea, although Parliament approved $200 million for the delivery of 5,000 units of affordable houses, the two parties (the minister and the contractor) allegedly renegotiated the contract terms to downsize the number of housing units to 1,502 at the same contract sum.

Press conference

Mr Akyea made the allegations at a press briefing in Accra yesterday to provide information on the state of the Saglemi affordable housing units.

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“Without parliamentary approval, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Collins Dauda, and the contractor reviewed and signed what was called a fresh and restated agreement to define the number of houses to be constructed to 1,502, but the contract sum remained the same.

“By this singular act, it became clear that Ghanaians were short-changed in terms of housing units in the region of 3,498. The number of housing units were down-sized from 5,000 to 1,502 and so the arithmetic shows that the 1,502 housing units should cost $60,000,” he claimed.

The Minister said by the revised contract agreement, the contractor had short-changed the country of 3498 housing units translating into $129.9 million.

He added that documents on the alleged misappropriation of funds meant for the contract had been forwarded to the Attorney-General for advice, after which the appropriate sanctions would be applied on the contractor and other persons found complicit in the stalled project.

Background

The 2,172 acres on which the Saglemi housing project is situated was procured in 2002 during the era of President John Agyekum Kufuor.

On August 15, 2012, President John Evans Atta Mills gave executive approval to the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing to implement the project.

The project involved the construction of 5,000 housing units for sale to members of the public through mortgage provided by Ghana Home Loans.

The project was implemented by Constrastora OAS Ghana Limited through a buyers credit of up to $200 million.

The first phase of 1,500 housing units was to be delivered by March 31, 2016 but was extended to August 31.

No liquidity challenges

Mr Akyea said contrary to assertions that the project stalled because of lack of funds, evidence of disbursements made to the contractor showed that the company had short-changed the state.

Expatiating on issues in respect of the affordable housing project, Mr Akyea said: “The project did not have any liquidity challenges because the whole contract sum of $200 million was put into an escrow account.

“A total disbursement of $195,854,969.52 has been disbursed from that account, with the contractor receiving $179,904,757.78 of the disbursed funds.

“The disbursement figures show that the contractor has received about 99.39 per cent of the amount and should have delivered all the 5,000 housing units,” he said.

“We will not be the government that will frustrate Ghanaians from getting affordable houses to live in, but if you have a gargantuan problem, you need to take your time and deal with it to ensure that the slate is clean so that you can get things done properly,” he said.

Chief Director

Mr Akyea said on December 21, 2016, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing at the time, Mr Ziblim Yakubu, and the contractor reviewed the first amended and restated agreement and signed a second restated agreement in which the scope of work was reduced to 1,024 housing units and the contract sum reduced to $191,519,000.

He said it beat the imagination of the government that such a review of the contract had been done at a time the previous government had lost an election and was preparing to hand over to another government.

“I am not here to do propaganda by running down the previous government or malign anyone on this Saglemi Housing project, but to clearly state the facts so that these facts will speak to the issues,” he stressed.

Assurance

Mr Akyea reiterated that the government would do everything possible to complete the affordable housing project at Saglemi, noting that it was a constitutional requirement.

“This government has no choice to say that it will not continue projects that were commenced by the previous government because the directive principle of state policy under Article 35(7) enjoins successive governments to continue projects started by the previous government,” he said.

He added that due diligence was being done to ensure that there was value for money.

Way forward

The minister stated that there was a strong possibility that the contract of Constrastora OAS Ghana Limited would be terminated upon advice from the Attorney-General, and given to other investors who had already lined up in readiness to take over the construction of the housing units.

The minister added that audit work was being carried out to determine how much it would cost to complete the project.

“The integrity of the buildings is questionable because if in less than five years, the walls are already cracking, then it means that quality work was not done,’’ he said.

The Daily Graphic has made attempts to speak to the former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Collins Dauda, without success.
Although his phone lines were not going through, text messages were sent to him for his response.

Number crunch

$129.9 million
The contractor of the abandoned Saglemi affordable housing project has appropriated $129.9 million of the contract sum to itself, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, has alleged.