Abandoned Affordable Houses...Squatters Assume Ownership
The Affordable Housing Project started by the former administration at Asokore-Mampong in Ashanti, has been taken over by squatters. They have occupied portions of the uncompleted buildings after the various contractors had abandoned work for non-payment of jobs done. Early settlers have turned themselves into landlords charging new comers between GH¢15 and GH¢20 for single room and GH¢100 for two and three bedroom apartment with hall toilet, bath and kitchen. The squatters are believed to come from communities like Sawaba, Ayigya Zongo and Aboabo. The Kufour administration initiated the housing project on a 50-acre land in 2006, in the bid to provide decent, and affordable houses for civil and public servants. But, the Times has gathered that construction work on the about 800 flats of one, two and three bedrooms stalled in 2009. Most of the project materials such as iron rods, PVC pipes, cement blocks, wooden doors, chippings, window and door frames said to belong to the government have been stolen. According to the squatters, one Accapela, who claims to be a foreman of one of the contracting firms working on the project, began the renting out of the rooms to people seeking accommodation. Attempts to contact Accapela failed. Life has not been easy, however, for the squatters as some of them told the Times that for about three times they have been chased out by some security personnel, "but we came back two or so days after". The "occupants" have used black polythene sheets to cover the windows and wawa boards for the doors. The Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council says it is aware of the situation and according to the Deputy Regional Minister, Anima Wilson, the government is working hard to put things right". Mr. Ernest Banning, the project consultant expressed grave concern about the invasion of the building by squatters, describing the situation as difficult to control. "The site is vast and you can't imagine how security personnel without arms can man the place at night when the squatter come in their numbers," he said. Mr Banning said the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing was making every frantic effort to get funds for the continuation of the project and once work is in progress it will be very difficult for any squatters to find the place as "haven". In Accra, Mr. Alban Bagbin, Minister of Water Resources, Works find Housing, told the Times that the past government embarked on the project without sustainable source of financing it. Mr. Bagbin said the Kufuor administration took a 30 million dollar loan from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) for the project but the money got exhausted before it left office. On assuming power in 2009, Mr. Bagbin said the new government decided to source for additional 100 million dollars from SSNIT to complete the project. The amount is yet to be released. According to the Minister, the project was not handled properly by the past administration as it was given to more than 400 contractors and the Ministry decided to purchase the materials for the contractors. "We are aware of the difficulties facing the contractors and we will soon secure the necessary funding to complete the project," he said. Mr. Bagbin said the squatters would be flushed out as soon as the Ministry secures funding from SSNIT and other financial institutions to complete the project.
Source: Ghanaian Times