The STX housing project which is expected to roll out 30,000 affordable houses may never see the light of the day as the project is fraught with problems that have caused critics of the deal boasting in town that this is one project they have predicted may never take off.
Almost 10 months after President John Evans Atta Mills cut the sod for commencement of the project, there seems to be little or no progress on the actual work except for the boardroom wrangling between the Koreans and their Ghanaian counterparts which has finally landed the two parties in the courtroom.
President of GREDA, Dr Alexander Tweneboa, told the Graphic Business in an interview that his association was submitting a fresh bid to government on the proposed housing project in the country.
GREDA's offer follows a protracted disagreement among the partners over ownership that has resulted in pull-outs, which has stalled the start of the project months after the sod cutting ceremony by the President.
Government seemed to find no headway in surmounting the second phase of problems associated with the STX Housing Project; more difficult than the first which it overcame by a majority decision in Parliament.
The Works and Housing Minister, Mr Alban Bagbin, in a meet the press series held on July 27, 2011 said he would no longer be dragged into a public question and answer session on STX, at least for now.
He asked journalists who had doubt about the project to meet him later for clarification, which to all intents and purposes was very weird.
“I am resisting the temptation to answer the question on STX because I don't want it to be an STX press conference. And so when we have to deal with STX, please, you are at liberty to come to me after you have conveyed this message to the people,” he stated.
The Deputy Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper commenting on the issue said he was disappointed at the recent turn of events regarding the STX Housing Project.
Mr Terkper who was speaking on Joy FMs Super Morning Show recently, however says it will be unfair for the government to be vilified because of STX.
He, however, did not comment on how the boardroom wrangling between Ghanaian managers of the STX construction firm and their Korean partners would affect the original agreement approved by Parliament.
NDC MP for Adenta, Mr Kojo Adu Asare has already called for government to abrogate the controversial housing agreement.
Speaking on PeaceFM, he said this could slave off further embarrassment for the government before the 2012 elections.
But GREDA said it had just concluded discussions with some local banks for the funding arrangement for a fresh bid.
“Our agreement with some of the local banks was for them to raise some substantial amount of money for us, but definitely not up to the US$1.5 billion the Korean STX partnership had failed to raise. We are planning to make a fresh bid for the project, which would be quite different from the earlier proposals”, Dr Tweneboa said.
The new bid according to the GREDA boss will contain details of project execution procurement plan and funding arrangement, which has been the bane of STX.
“This new proposal will signify a new partnership between the government and the private sector, which we hope to deepen in the coming months”, Dr Tweneboa said.
In May this year, the sector Minister announced that syndicated funds had been secured from three international banks for the project. He named UK-based Standard Chartered Bank, as the lead bank of a consortium of three banks, with the other two being American.
But Standard Chartered Bank refused to comment as to whether it is leading a syndicate to contribute to raising US$1.5 billion to fund the project.
The story, however, changed when the Minority leader posed a similar question to Mr Bagbin in Parliament, as the Minister named Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays Bank PLC of UK, as the lead bank of a consortium of banks.
GREDA is now hopeful that their new plan, which is expected to be submitted to Mr Alban Bagbin later next month, will bring some solution to the precarious shortage of accommodation especially in the national capital, Accra.
The GREDA plan will spell out in detail how the project is expected to be financed and executed. GREDA had at the initial stage of the project pulled out of the deal over alleged intimidations, questioning government’s commitment to growing local construction firms.
STX Construction Company Limited, Korea, the parent company of STX Ghana, initiated legal action at a Fast Track High Court in Accra against six respondents, on July 26, 2011.
STX Construction Limited, therefore, wants an order of injunction to restrain STX Engineering and Construction Company Ghana “from acting in any manner whatsoever on the resolutions of January 28, 2011, February 25, 2011 and May 13, 2011”.
STX Korea also said it had relieved B.K Asamoah, of his post as Chief Executive of the STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited, but Mr Asamoah insists the Koreans no longer had a stake in the project.
The partners on August 23, met at the instance of Mr Bagbin to discuss mutually beneficial solutions to the problems.
“It is the wish of government that to ensure that the affordable housing units are available for our security services. And so having known the leaders who are involved in this project we want to urge them to exercise restraint.” Chairman of the Works and Housing Committee of Parliament, David Tetteh-Assumeng said.
It is unclear what government's next move will be, but there appears to be no true clear-cut solution in sight. The sector minister is confident they will pull off the project and even meet the deadline, however, one cannot say if the partners in the deal share his enthusiasm.
Source: Graphic Business
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