Saturday, 10 May 2014

Foxes Have Holes but the Son of a Ghana Man...

Matthew 8: 20
Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

I remember talking to a friend in Europe some years back, she had just turned 19 and she told me she was moving out of her parents’ house. According to her she was too old to live with her parents. I was 20 going to 21 and the thought of moving out from my parents’ home permanently hadn’t even occurred to me. When I graduated from University, it was straight to my parents’ place without a thought. When I got a job in Accra, far from my parent, I moved in with some relatives and would have lived there indefinitely if I could. Eventually, I had to move out and find my own place. 

I knew rent in Accra wasn’t cheap but I didn’t think it would be that expensive. How na├»ve of me. Everywhere I went, landlords were demanding 2 years rent advance and agents were demanding 10% extra of whatever I was to pay the landlord. Each time I did the maths I just wanted to go back and live with my parents. I finally found a place where the taps run more than 4 days a week, a luxury in Accra by any standard. After almost emptying my accounts paying 24 months’ rent advance, I finally moved into ‘my own’ place. That night I couldn’t sleep. I had spent 90% of all my savings in the last two years in one day!! I couldn’t afford a bed; I bought a mattress put it on the floor and didn’t even bother with any other form of furniture.  

According to the rent law of Ghana as at 2012, no landlord is supposed to charge more than 6 months’ rent advance, but this is Ghana. Apart from the male/female sign on public toilets, no other rule works. In fact, when parliamentarians are getting their exorbitant undeserved rent allowances, they are given enough to cover 2 years advance. The law makers are breaking the law, no surprise there. 

Towards the end of last year, President Mahama announced an affordable housing project. Nobody took him serious. Successive governments have made the same promise from as far back as I can remember. Generally what happens is, an obscene amount of money is pumped into the project and less than half way through, the project is abandoned of some new affordable housing project. If the project is completed, which is almost never, the buildings are immediately bought by people with government connections who definitely can afford them and rented out to those who need them who can’t afford them. People who need these building will never afford them and those who don’t need them will keep buying them. In the end, it is “as you were” for everyone.

According to a report by the Housing Data Centre, Over 70% of workers not likely to “ever” own a home. In my opinion, that percentage should be even bigger. According to the report, people who earn below Gh₵4000 per month aren’t likely to qualify for a mortgage. Very few people earn that and given that houses in Ghana are sold in dollars (US not Zim), even people who earn Gh₵4000 per month won’t be able to afford buying. This is getting depressing; let me move to something else.

How about building you own house? Just last week I heard a bag of cement was being sold at Gh₵25! In 1997 a bag of cement was the equivalent of 50p. Ok, maybe that is too far back. In March of this year, a bag of cement was Gh₵20.50. It’s no wonder there are so many uncompleted buildings wasting away. People budget and start building then suddenly prices go crazy and they are priced out of completing them.

Writing this getting me very depressed so I’m going to stop. The president says Ghana is not the worstcountry in the world. According to him, it is pessimism that is holding us back. Let me go and be optimistic so that things get better in Ghana. 

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of 'Ghana' Man has nowhere to lay his head."