The Minister of Works and Housing, Samuel Atta Akyea, has accused the erstwhile NDC government of misappropriating $114 million meant for the Saglemi Housing project in the Greater Accra Region.
Mr Atta Akyea said this was unveiled in an audit conducted by the Ghana Institute of Surveyors signed by its president, Dr John Amaglo.
“The Ghana Institute of Surveyors has come out with a report showing that what is on the ground, measured against the money received will bring out a very very huge figure of about $114 million,” Mr Atta Akyea quoted from the supposed report.
“It is stated in black and white that the amount paid to the contractor is $179,904,752.5. It is stated clearly that the total works on the ground is $64 million, the difference is what gives you the $114 million I’m talking about.”
The minister who was a guest on Joy News’ PM Express indicated that the matter has been referred to the CID for interrogation.
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Consequently, he said past officials of the Mahama government including former Works and Housing Minister, Collins Dauda, are being probed.
Mr Atta Akyea claims his predecessor illegally altered the contract terms of the project after parliamentary approval.
He has said in previous interviews that although the contractor was paid close to US$200m for the construction of 5,000 housing units, only about 1,500 were built.
A probe into the project was backed by the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, who ordered a parliamentary probe in June into the alleged misappropriation.
“The matter has now been referred to the Works and Housing Committee, the leadership of the Prosecution and Legal Committee are to join to look into this matter which has been presented before the House and all its aspects and report as a matter of urgency,” Prof Oquaye directed.
The Saglemi saga
In May 2019, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo, recommended to Mr Atta Akyea, to refer the issue to the appropriate authorities for criminal investigations and prosecution.
It came after Mr Atta Akyea at a press conference said the ministry was awaiting advice from the Attorney General.
According to the AG, there was no evidence to support the decision to vary the terms of the contract.
A joint parliamentary memorandum for the approval of the 5,000 units by Construtora OAS Limited was dated September 20, 2012 and signed by the acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu, and delivered to the Clerk to Parliament, with a copy to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.
The 2,172 acres on which the project is situated was procured in 2002 under the Kufuor administration.
Frustrated with the slow pace of work and interruptions after the exit of the Mahama administration, the contractor terminated its deal with the government in April 2019. The company communicated the decision on February 18.
The contractor, in another letter dated March 8, and signed by Directors of the company, Charles Maia Galvao and Ricardo Rocha Ulm da Silva, demanded compensation from the government.
“…Further, the termination and following the provisions of the Agreement, the Contractor hereby presents variation to cover additional costs suffered by the contractor due to delays and disruptions which impacted the project and are attributable to the Employer,” stated the letter addressed to the Chief Director of the Works and Housing Ministry.
The letter listed some of the actions on the part of the government contributing to disruptions as “(i) tax exemption not fully conceded as per the conditions of the contract; (ii) tax exemption conceded beyond the time frame specified on the contract; (iii) Costs due to the reduction of space of works and moreover, the suspension of works.”