major problems facing this country. I say so, looking at the number of our people who every evening, from 6 o'clock, try to have a small corner for themselves on the streets in Nima and New Town, lying on the bare floor with the sky as their roof. Everyday, these numbers increase, and our question is, what do we do for these people? Now we are talking about shelter. If you put shelter or housing in the market place and allow market forces to determine the future of housing for this country, the poor would always lose out and this is where we ought to focus our attention.
The maker of the Statement talked about the street children in Brazil and other places. We have quite a number of them here. Mr. Speaker, I believe it is for this reason that the Government of the First Republic set up the Rural Housing Scheme supported the Building and Road Research Institute to go into the possibility of using our local materials to construct affordable houses in rural areas for our people.
Unfortunately, the Department of Rural Housing which still exists appears to have been somehow disabled from performing its function. The Department exists as part of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development thus very little is known of their activities.
Again, the research Institutes into housing also exist; they do their work but very little support is given to them. I wish to urge the Government to come out with a clear housing policy directing and supporting these state institutions so that they can perform their functions and then bring housing to the affordable levels that we are talking about.
We have State Housing Company still in this country. I see their office. I see their
Housing Corporation when there was a change of Government. We started selling rental units to individuals and so we had problems with people who could not afford to buy those houses and so they had nowhere to live and that was the beginning of slums.
In Tema, TDC was building for workers. After the overthrow of Nkrumah, when the houses were sold to individuals, the workers who could not afford started developing the slums, wooden structures, filling in all the open spaces which would have been provided for schools, for recreation. So it is important that as a Government, we fashion out what we want to do and move in that direction.
Somewhere, at the beginning of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), National Democratic Congress (NDC) era, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) was also charged with the responsibility of building rental units, so we have Adenta; we have several other units all over the country. Along the line, as conditionality for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), again these were to be sold so we started selling out these units and asked SSNIT to get out of the housing provision business and again those who suffer are the workers. That is why we have all these problems all over the place.
I just heard one of my hon. Colleagues touch on an aspect of dealing with development control, effective control of developing factors. Again, we are not serious about these things. Many of our towns do not have layouts. You need to have a layout and in the layout you make provisions for schools, for open spaces and for other social amenities, recreation grounds for instance.
The District Assemblies should be well-equipped. If you do not equip the District Assemblies, there is no way they
can control developers. Apart from that, they need to be supported. We know what is happening in the Accra decongestion programme now. The front men ought to be supported before they will be able to enforce the law.
So Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that we need to take this seriously and if possible, refer this Statement to the Select Committee on Works and Housing; let them come out with a paper for us to find time to discuss so that the end result would be the contribution of this Parliament as far as provision of housing is concerned.
It will also be necessary for us to draw attention to our architects and building technologists. When you go to our villages, the old architectural pieces that our forefathers put in place are what we see. There have been no improvements whatsoever, yet we have professors of building technology, we have architects who are professors; nothing has happened. So I think that we have to put that into their domain. They must come out, fashion something out for us to improve upon the buildings that we have in our villages so that the villages would also look very beautiful.
With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I thank you.