The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, on Monday cut the sod for the construction of 320 housing units for the personnel of the Ghana Police Service at the estimated cost of US$45 million.
The project involves the construction of 112 two-bedroom and 208 three-bedroom apartments, recreational facilities, Kindergarten Centre, and sports complex.
The project also includes asphalting of the road network as well as electrification of the area as part of government’s efforts to provide decent accommodation for the security services and other government agencies.
The project falls under the Phase Three of the Security Forces Housing Units, and would be completed in two years to reduce the country’s housing deficit.
It is being implemented by the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Works and Housing, with Amandi Holdings Limited as the contractors.
Dr Bawumia, who is also the Chairman of the Police Council, at ceremony in Accra said it was government’s priority to provide decent accommodation for the personnel of the security services and the citizenry as a whole.
He, therefore, urged the private sector to complement government’s efforts to solve the current housing deficit adding that data showed that Ghana’s housing deficit was in excess of 1.7 million units, and this was expected to rise to two million by 2020 if swift measure were not taken.
He bemoaned the poor accommodation of police personnel, who were accommodated in substandard houses scattered in towns and cities across the country, which often hampered the efficient mobilisation and coordination of personnel for emergency assignments.
Vice President Bawumia added that, plans were far advanced for the provision of additional 10,000 housing units for the security services and some court structures for the Judicial Service under the Master Facility Agreement signed between the Government of Ghana and Sino-hydro Corporation/Chinese Government in infrastructure for Bauxite Barter Arrangement.
“Government is working around the clock to reduce the housing deficit currently facing the country,” the Vice President noted.
He observed that more than 50 per cent of Ghanaians lived in sub-standard houses, dilapidated inner-city dwellings, uncompleted houses, shops and kiosks as well as other unsuitable structures.
He said there was undersupply of annual requirements of housing units in the country, adding that, available statistics indicated that the current supply was about 35,000 to 40,000 units per annum against an actual need of 170,000 units.
He attributed the shortfall to the high cost of purchasing or renting a home, litigation over land ownership, high cost of building materials and labour cost as well as lack of realistic and reliable mortgage regime.
In that regard, he said, the solution to the housing deficit in the country would depend on public-private sector partnerships and, thus, called for functional mortgage market with lower interest rate.
To achieve that feat, Vice President Bawumia said the government was implementing a number of initiatives including the land registry digitisation project, and digitisation of the case-tracking system at the courts.
Other initiatives were, the National Identification Card Programme and National Digital Property Addressing System, which would ensure a building block for proper and functional mortgage market in the country.
While the government was striving to meet the accommodation needs of the Police Service, Dr Bawumia charged the Service to meet the highest standards of professionalism required of them.
He entreated the contractors of the project, Amandi Holdings Limited, to continue to show the high standard of efficiency with which it undertook the previous security housing projects.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr David Asante-Apeatu, earlier in his welcoming address, said the Service’s transformational programme was on course, with the collective vision of becoming a world class service capable of delivering planned, democratic and peaceful services up to the standards of international best practices.
He said the agenda of transformation of the Service was capital intensive, especially in an era where government was faced with competing demands in the distribution of the national resources.
This notwithstanding, he said the Service appreciated government’s efforts to adequately equip and maintain the Service in line with the dictates of the Constitution of Ghana.
The IGP noted that the completion of the housing units would be a morale booster for the personnel of the Service.
Meanwhile, Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister of the Interior, announced government’s plans to recruit 4,000 police personnel this year, to augment the Service in order to deliver on its mandate, noting that, currently the ratio of the personnel stood at 1:848, which was below the United Nations standard of 1:500.
The Phase Three of the Security Forces Housing Project is expected to create about 800 jobs.