Water Resources, Works and Housing Minister, Alban Bagbin on Tuesday laid bare what he says is a precarious situation for Ghana’s housing needs, and proceeded to counsel opponents of the Government of Ghana/STX Korean housing deal to save their criticisms because that is not what will fix Ghana’s housing deficit.
Bagbin who addressed a press conference “to lay bare” the full facts as against the demonization of the $1.5 billion housing deal to provide, in the first phase, some 30,000 housing units, said …”what is important for us in government is not to continue to bemoan the problem as is fashionable in this country to do. What is important is to arm ourselves with the shovels the pickaxes, the hammers, the nails and concrete mixers that will for once ensure that public servants …can look forward to a place they can call home after each day’s hard work in the service of mother Ghana.
“…Even our detractors agree that the housing sector is facing a crisis of huge magnitude, however, the amazing contradiction in their argument is this and I quote; ‘yes we want the houses to be built, but no we don’t want the houses to be built’…What the dire state of affairs in the sector is calling for is at this time is certainly not double talk. What it calls for is action, bold and swift and that is all the more reason why the NDC government is acting responsibly to not only provide housing units but create thousands of new jobs and also lay a new foundation for a sustained growth of the economy.”
The STX Korea deal has been the subject of bitter debates between the government and its opponents who have labeled it a less than prudent transaction to commit the nation to. Debates in parliament to get the deal approved so it can kick off, have twice ended in stalemates, resulting in its recall by the presidency for a relook.
Not just STX
Bagbin said his ministry had signed a number of MOUs with several foreign and local companies to help address the housing challenge.
“We have for example an MOU with Messrs Goodwill International Group of Companies and that is programmed to build 14,360 affordable housing units of various kinds and this is to be located in the regional capitals of the country. We have also signed another MOU with a Ghanaian company called Agu Resources Limited… and they have started their first construction…at Nsakina at Amasaman (for 10,000 housing units…”
Mr Bagbin said the MOUs were to ensure the construction of 145,0800 “safe, decent, low-income and affordable housing units.”
The Works and Housing Minister stressed the latest housing deal to be executed by STX Engineers and Construction Ghana Limited is the “largest and single most ambitious” by government yet.
According to him, government will allocate 30,000 housing units to the nation’s security services and 60,000 to public sector workers while the remaining 110,000 – of the 200,000 to be constructed under the deal – would be available to Ghanaians to purchase on the mortgage market.
“If you don’t want this, I don’t know what you want in the housing industry again,” he stated.
Mr Bagbin criticised the opposition New Patriotic Party for merely “scratching at the surface of the housing deficit with their appalling and yet-to-be-completed” affordable housing project while the party was in office.
“It is the vision of President Mills to leapfrog this nation out of the current housing doldrums in order to deliver a better Ghana for all.”
The former Majority Leader expressed shock at what he said has been the partisan twist the debate on the housing proposal has taken.
According to him deliberations over the proposed deal have always included “opposition MPs and representatives of private sector and financial institutions.”
Mr Bagbin stressed government is aware it is accountable to the people and has resolved to ensure proper due diligence is followed regarding the deal.