The embattled Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Mr Kwame Owusu, has said eleven air conditioners are not even enough for his freshly-renovated four-bedroom Cantonments official residence which has an adjoining one-bedroom guest house.
GHS1 million of the Authority’s funds were used to expand and renovate a two-bedroom “colonial-styled wooden structure” into the current sprawling property which sits on a one-acre land that has become a source of controversy, since Kwame A Plus, a musician-turned-Citizen Vigilante, outed the Director-General on his profligate expenditures.
Mr Owusu, who is being investigated by the Ministry of Transport for spending GHS135,000 on an end-of-year dinner party in 2017, and also GHS10,000 on lunch for eight people at a meeting, services provided by his own Luxe Suites Hotel, said the conflict of interest accusations are “below the belt”.
Parrying accusations of conflict of interest regarding the award of the house expansion and renovation contract to a friend of his, Mr Owusu told journalists at a press conference during the week that the media has been mischievous and unprofessional.
Regarding accusations that he fitted his new property with eleven air conditioners, Mr Owusu said thus: “Also an issue has been raised with the Director-General having eleven air conditioners. That, I consider mediocrity. In a two-bedroom house? Where would I put them?” adding that: “The places [rooms] that I listed to you, [for] each one of them to have an air conditioner, it would be 13, so, the eleven is even not enough”.
“By the way, we don’t put them all on together”, he added.
Explaining how the house expansion and renovation started, Mr Owusu said: “This Authority has been renting apartments, houses, whether its $5000 or whatever it is, over the years, paid by the Authority. When I took over these affairs, I decided to go and chase the Works and Housing Ministry to see if the Authority can have a residence. In my quest, I was able to secure a property. That property was a 2-bedroom wooden structure in the old colonial style. If you are going to renovate that structure, you would have to put a memo and say: ‘A renovation of a 2-bedroom residence’. Even if it becomes 10, the initial one will not be renovating a 10-bedroom house. So, the topic of 2-bedroom, which some of you [media] including Mr A Plus, the Citizen Vigilante, has made this to become like the Director-General has actually increased an amount just to do ‘chop chop’ as one big TV station says: ‘Let us ‘chop chop’’. The man at the bar is my friend, I cannot imagine when the above, Mr Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I’ll be chopping GHS8,000 and say let’s chop before he’s my friend. Oh please!