The Minister of Public Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, yesterday visited the cement companies operating in Tema, namely
Diamond Cement Group, GHACEM Limited and Dzata Cement.
As expected, the Minister made a few remarks including the fact that the government was in talks with cement manufacturing companies across the country for the supply of cement at discounted prices for the implementation of its affordable housing scheme.
The minister said the success or failure of the program would depend, among other things, on the companies’ ability to supply enough cement and at affordable rates.
He rightly stated that cement is a major component of housing construction and therefore its adequate supply and accessibility cannot be ignored and indicated that the government is trying to come up with a specified selling price for cement .
Companies have expressed a desire to align their operations with government policies to address housing challenges in the country.
The Ghanaian Times believes the minister’s claims must be given serious scrutiny for the benefit of the many who are unable to make their voices heard in the halls of the poor.
Is the government thinking of the countless Ghanaians who are buying cement at exorbitant prices for housing, thus avoiding pressuring the state for a place to lay their heads?
Is this not showing insensitivity to the fate of populations, which has been the case for at least four decades?
If the cement companies wish to reduce the price of their product so that the government can provide housing for the privileged few, isn’t their action doing the masses a service?
That the Ministry of Works and Housing publish a list of those who have benefited from affordable housing over the years for the whole country to determine the beneficiaries.
We live in a country where affordable housing is usually only really affordable for politicians, some other public servants and their cronies.
It is regrettable that instead of talking about the challenges raised by the cement companies, including high import charges and shortage of limestone, the Minister instead asked them to consider opportunities to expand the production capacities of materials known local construction materials, such as Pozzolana cement and explore the use of other locally available materials in cement production.
His suggestion was based on the fact that about US$350 million is spent annually to import about 85% of the raw materials needed for cement production and that up to US$30 million could be saved on import of these materials by increasing the production and use of Pozzolan Cement.
It is recognized that with the shortage of affordable housing in the country, Pozzolana cement provides a superior building product at a reduced construction cost.
If so, why have successive governments not supported
Pozzolana Ghana Limited (PGL), the only licensed producer of pozzolan cement in the country to thrive in such a way that the Minister of Housing would have approached PGL for the support he is currently seeking from other cement companies?
Can the minister show the world a single public facility or politician-owned property in the country built of pozzolan cement?
Even though the government wants to buy cement at an affordable price, people deserve better and so the government should commit to making building material prices affordable to reduce pressure on people struggling to provide their own housing. .
Also, let affordable housing go to those who truly deserve it, not to people who hijack it because of some power they wield.