By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Kpeshie Ridge, Accra
As part of Government’s Barracks Regeneration Project, a sod cutting to herald a USD 100 million military housing project and reconstruction of the Ghana Military Academy (GMA) – the umbilical quarters of all officers of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) – has been effected by the Commander-in-Chief (C-In-C) of the Armed Forces and the President of the Republic – Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The ceremony, which took place at the GMA on Thursday, 4th July, 2019, would construct 176 2-bedroom flats, 160 2-bedroom half compound houses and 160 2-bedroom houses in 11 4-storey blocks of flats across the country.
Additionally, a new GMA auditorium with 640 seating capacity, 1-storey Classroom Block, one military hostel with 240 self-contained rooms, one Platoon Commander’s Block containing 4 2-bedroom flats, an Administration Block with 48 offices and a Conference Room, a 3.5km perimeter fence wall around the entire GMA compound – expected to be completed in June 2020, and the total USD100 million project, to be completed in 36 months.
The nationwide distribution is as follows; Accra – three-storey Military Academy Hostel with 240 Self-Contained rooms two-bedroom, four-storey Block of 16 Flat, Takoradi – two-bedroom, four-storey Block of 16 flats, Sunyani/Tamale – two-Bedroom, four-storey Block of 16 flats, two-bedroom, half compound house with kitchen (4 per Block), for about 1000 personnel.
The C-In-C bemoaned the deplorable accommodation levels of officers of GAF and said “In this day and age, it is unacceptable that Senior Military Officers are allocated residential accommodation or rooms originally meant for Junior Officers and the latter housed in worse conditions. It is time to change the status quo by providing military personnel with better accommodation and station them in their respective barracks”.
Solutions have also been found to tackle the housing needs confronting the Security Services, including the Ghana Armed Forces, for there is the need for all military personnel to be within reach of the High Command for rapid deployment in times of emergency, the C-In-C stated.
In addressing and tackling systematically the infrastructural needs and concerns of the officers and men and women of GAF, through the Barracks Regeneration Projects policy – launched in 2017 and intended at the construction of 64 housing units, 16 housing units have been completed, with the remaining expected to be commissioned by the end of this year, country the President said.
The C-In-C, in his address, used the occasion to also outline the steps his government is rolling out to tackle the 2 million housing units deficit – as projected by the Ministry of Works and Housing – a situation which the President labelled as crisis, which, he said, if left unresolved, portends serious socio-economic ramifications for the country.
“Towards addressing the housing deficit confronting the wider population, government is deploying appropriate mix of policy of Public Private Investments to deliver quality affordable social housing and private housing solutions that meet the needs and financial capacity of the ordinary Ghanaian”, His Excellency Akufo-Addo, said.
The President hinted that the construction of 250,000 affordable housing across the country has begun, in addition to the completion of other affordable housing projects started by previous governments and further, a National Housing and Mortgage Fund is also in the offing that would leverage Private Capital Investments, in the housing Industry.
Together with Poly Changda Overseas Engineering Company Limited and Poly Technologies Incorporated of the People’s Republic of China, Ghana Government has secured the USD100M facility for the construction of the project.
Personnel of GAF must be on hand at all times to ensure effective control and deployment which can be achieved if they are housed together, ensuring a united force, however, these security officers and support staff are not adequately catered for within the enclaves of military installations to facilitate easy mobilizations and deployments, due to the housing shortage in the Garrisons.
To remedy the situation, GAF has over the years entered into a number of tenancy agreements with civilian-owned properties within communities, to house its personnel, however, this arrangement inadvertently makes effective control and deployment of personnel living outside the garrisons, extremely difficult, as it also results in bleed out of funds, which could have been saved for other priority areas and presents possible risks in national security, that may arise from low morale of members.
The housing project is expected to deliver housing units in specified military installations nationwide and forms part of the overarching development agenda to retool and re-equip; rehabilitate, upgrade and provide new accommodation and training to remain relevant in the ever changing threats to national security.
The Minister for Defence and Member of Parliament for Bimbilla – Dominic Nitiwul, said that it is the aim of the project to make GAF officers, men and women as comfortable as possible, due to the sensitive nature of the work they do in safeguarding and preserving the territorial integrity of the nation.
The Contractor, Poly Technologies of China has been doing business in Ghana particularly with the Military for close to 15 years and has constructed a lot of projects in more than 100 countries overseas, of which the contract amounts summed up to more than 10 billion US Dollars.
Dignitaries present at the ceremony included the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana – HE Shi Ting Wang, Minister for the Interior and MP for Nandom – Ambrose Dery, Deputy Minister for Defence – Major Derek Oduro (rtd), National Security Adviser – Brigadier General Emmanuel Okyere (rtd), the Chief of the Defenec Staff (CDS) – Lieutenant General Obed Boamah Akwa.
Others were the Chief of Army Staff – Major General William Ayamdo, Chief of the Naval Staff – Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, Chief of Air Staff – Air Vice Marshall Frank Hanson, Chief of Staff, General Headquarters – Major General Thomas Oppong-Peprah, Commandant of Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College – Rear Admiral Moses Beick-Baffour and Commandant of GMA – Major General William Omane-Agyekum