US$4m children library rots away …as Child Rights Int. calls for action

A US$4million Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT)-sponsored library has been left to rot, following the delay in completion of an audit report that was started three years go.

The decision by management of the state pension institution to carry out an audit on the expenditure made so far on the project which was being undertaken jointly with the Ghana Library Board – some three years after the main structure was completed – has stalled the entire project.

The project was initiated to deal with the deteriorating conditions of children’s libraries across the country. The Ghana Library Authority therefore submitted a proposal for SSNIT to fund the construction of a new purpose-built Children’s Library in Accra. This was initiated due to the poor state of the children’s libraries of Teshie and Kaneshie in Accra. The time of approval for the proposal coincided with the 50th anniversary celebrations of SSNIT’s existence.

In view of that, the proposal was accepted and considered a part of the monumental activities SSNIT would carry out in marking its anniversary, and as a show of its commitment as a good corporate citizen.

An agreement was subsequently reached between SSNIT and Ghana Library Authority on the proposal, upon which SSNIT agreed to earmark almost US$4million for the project.

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By the agreement, Ghana Library Authority was to provide the site for construction of the facility and recruit staff upon completion of project.

SSNIT, on the other hand, was to fund construction of the building, furnishing and stocking of the sole-purposed library with books and modern equipment. Based on the agreement between SSNIT and Ghana Library Authority Board, TRUSTLIB Board was established to oversee implementation of the project.

The project, which was completed three years ago, is fully fitted with air-conditioners and is disability-friendly. It has a mobile library, conference halls, a recreational area with astro-turf, a first-aid room, state-of-the-art disability-friendly toilet facilities, a computer room, offices, a large parking space and waiting area, and a power plant. However, SSNIT suspended activities of the TRUSTLIB Board for it to carry out the audit on expenditure made so far on the project.

Bright K. Appiah, Executive Director-Child Rights International, in a statement noted: “With the building virtually abandoned, it is beginning to deteriorate. This is a blatant waste of both state and citizen’s resources, which is highly unacceptable.

“The liability period that was agreed upon between the stakeholders and contractor during execution of the project has expired. This means additional funds will have to be spent for repairs and replacement of fittings before the facility can be commissioned.”

Concerning the lengthy audit, he said: “The understanding was that after the audit SSNIT would resume its commitment toward the children’s library project.

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“Currently, no communication on the audit’s report and resumption of work on the project has been sent by SSNIT to Ghana Library Authority, and the fate of the TRUSTLIB Board is now unknown. Even though the library building has been completed, other commitments have not been met since suspension of the project.”

He said the completion, stocking and use of the facility is imperative to ensure that children have a conducive environment for learning.

“Child Rights International (CRI) believes the initiative from the onset was a laudable one. It will be the first solely-purposed children’s library in the country, which is a fulfillment of the country’s constitutional aspirations for the welfare of children under articles 28 and 37.

“Consequently, we expect a firm commitment from SSNIT toward completion of the project as a way of responding to the best interests of children as provided for in the Children’s Act 560.

“Additionally, it is important that the Ghana Library Authority recognises the project as its own and commits itself toward the realisation of its objective by ensuring all the things that matter in the process.”

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