NDC Sells 18 State Estates Bungalows In 18 Months
In just eighteen months in office, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills has successfully superintended the sale of eighteen (18) state bungalows. These bungalows are located at the choicest enclaves of the metropolis. At least, each of the flats would contain five families but was handed over to a private property developer on a ‘Donkomi’ basis. Our investigations unfolded the fact that the usurper of the properties, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), has taken over these buildings which are located in Switchback Road near the 37 Military Hospital. The Today newspaper learnt that the acquisition was in a tacit connivance with the Ministry of Works, Housing and Water Resources under the behest of Honourable Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin. However, in a brief reaction on the issue, Mr. Bagbin, the sector minister confirmed that indeed such transactions had been done but he explained: “This transaction was done long before I even became the minister of works and housing.” He continued: “It was the housing department of the ministry of works and housing that supervised the sale of the bungalows to SSNIT but this happened long ago under the past government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). It was never done under my term as the minister.” Mr. Bagbin further stated that the transaction also included lands at Dunkonaa in Weija, a suburb of Accra, which were sold to SSNIT for the construction of housing estates for workers. “Before I got to the ministry, SSNIT had even started construction work on the Dunkonaa lands. It was even quite recently that they completed the projects where I was consulted to officially inaugurate the buildings. This was never done in secrecy – it was published in the various newspapers and it was all over,” Mr. Bagbin stressed. The irony of this yet another hostile annexation of peoples’ properties-which seems to be a fast developing trade mark of the political oligarchy -is that the workers living in the buildings were all dislocated and are now domiciled in Central Region-Kasoa where they commute to work every day. When the paper caught up with the evicted victims to ascertain their side of the unannounced eviction – nay, evacuation – they were seething with bitter anger against the minister and his government for treating them like immigrants who have been declared persona non grata. The bewildered evictees said the demeanour of the previous and current administration insinuates that workers are second class citizens who have no right to live in a good environment. They complained profusely about the quality of the structures that were put up for their habitation. “If you see the wall it’s already cracking and only God knows when the building could collapse on us. They haphazardly erected the building because they don’t value us”, they said. Some of the workers were worried about the distance they have to cover between their places of abode and work place. “Can you imagine that we have to travel between two to three hours before we get to work at the Ministries? Sometimes we fell asleep when going back home in the evening after close of work because of the stress that is mainly a result of the lack of sufficient sleep”. They indicated that they have to wake up as early as 3:30 in the morning so that they can get to work on time. This undoubtedly would have a devastating effect on both the workers’ health and productivity. Our checks at the Switchback Road show empty, beautiful flats waiting to be bulldozed in the days to come so that construction of new private properties can start. A check from the sector ministry indicates that over five thousand (5,000) Civil Servants-all of whom have applied for government bungalows-cannot get housing because of scarcity. An officer hinted that there are people who have written applications for the past eight years to be allocated a bungalow but have been consistently rejected. The officer wondered why the government would sit unconcerned while buildings that are habitable are demolished. The officer, who requested anonymity, thinks that it is absolutely wrong for the minister to give a goahead for the demolishing of the houses at the Switchback Road because “there are plenty workers who earnestly need decent accommodation.” Sources close to the ministry allege that the process of handing over properties at prime areas was started by the former administration but only by the current government. However, given the ranging storms surrounding the purported sale of juicy state properties to politicians, bureaucrats and their profiteering business allies, it would amount to political immorality and insincerity for the President and his henchmen to supervise over the final scramble of state land/properties. A property developer, Dr. Henry Quaye of Henq Consult Company, said, though the nation stands to lose as a result of the clandestine wholesale of priceless state lands, he equally thought that the indigenes of the said land (Gas) would be the biggest victims. “Do you know that the Gas have been encircled by others and that they can no longer expand to any where though their population is increasing at alarming rate. Take a situation of La, where my mother hails from, they cannot expand the La township because all the lands have gone to others, especially the state,” he observed.He accused the government of reneging on its fundamental responsibility – protecting properties. He indicated that today’s neoliberal politicians consider property acquisition as the apex of human achievement and that was the sole reason why “they would do everything” regardless of the laws to ensure that collective ownership is expropriated for private gain.” As to how SSNIT, a public corporate institution, would be given a state property to develop for commercial interest leaves many curious observers in limbo. By definition and practices, SSNIT is not substantially different from private business organisation. It is therefore unsettling to see state asserts being doled out for private profit motive.