Diary of MyWeku Restaurant: Stop building work; produce permit

Diary of MyWeku Restaurant: Stop building work; produce permit

Diary of MyWeku Restaurant: Stop building work; produce permit

“Stop building work; produce permit” is probably the most common inscription you’d see on half-completed buildings in Ghana. The inscriptions are usually dramatic. Fully emblazoned in flaming red, they seem like they are carelessly written or more accurately painted using brushes with rough bristles in a haphazard and slip shod manner. The folks who put these special tattoos on buildings are not dissimilar to folks who dish out parking and traffic tickets. Speed is of the essence in their job. Their timing needs to be perfect, perhaps when no eyes are on them and work hurriedly before anyone sees them. I’m sure even they, as tough as they’d like to think they are, value their limbs!

No one likes to be told they are breaking the law especially in a country where it takes months between application for a building permit to when a decision is made to approve or reject the application. Most folks just start without the permit and in a way, can you blame them? For me though, two experiences put enough of the fear of God (and government) in me that not a single building block was going to be laid for MyWeku Restaurant until a building permit had been secured.

The first was that every now and then the “authorities” have been known to storm an area bringing with them large bulldozers to pull down building with the dreaded “stop building” signs. I have seen the aftermath of such a demolition exercise. Not pretty.

The second was that in 2015, about 150 people died in floods in Accra. The cause? blocked waterways blocked by buildings that had no permits and had been built illegally.

The issuing of building permits, therefore, is one of the means through which local building regulators in Ghana control physical developments in their respective areas. They are mandated by the Local Government Act 1993, Act 462 to issue building permits, a legal document, to folks like me (prospective developers) to permit them to put up buildings in accordance to specifications in their drawings and in line with the development code and guidelines set by the local regulators or government.

Right! since not getting the building permit was not an option, but mandatory and in my view the morally responsible thing to do, the next hurdle was to quicken the process. Waiting for months perhaps even years (I was told in some cases) for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn was not an option either.

The first port of call was to the local Town and Planning Office with responsibility for the geographical area where the restaurant will be built. The procedure below, well a brief version was given as what will need to be followed. Pushed on time the officer stated that a temporary permit can be applied for which will then enable us to start the build. The “real” permanent permit would of course still need to be applied for, but with a legal temporary permit quite frankly I do not care if the “real” permit takes the customary months or years in being approved. It seems or at least I rationalised that the “real” permit is nothing but a mere formality. We would still need to provide the authorities with documents such as site plans and our architectural drawings for a thorough assessment to gain approval for the temporary permit. As I write we are working feverishly to get these ready for submission!

Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs

1 Obtain preliminary design approval in principle (PDAP)
Agency: Town and Planning Commission

The Town and Planning Commission check whether the zoning is correct and they check the height of the warehouse, the tracing of the layout of the warehouse, the total occupied surface by the building, the set-back with regards to the main road, the fence line and the building line.

A receipt and a letter will be issued to the architect to enable a search at the Land Commission to prove the ownership of the land. 45 days GHS 40
2 Conduct title search at the Land Commission
Agency: Land Commission

Before the approval process commences at the Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD), the department must confirm that the land where the warehouse will be built belongs to the applicant. In order to do so, the TCPD will provide the applicant with a letter to be submitted to the Land Title Registry/Land Commission along with the applicant’s site plan. The TCPD requires stamps from the Land Commission on its documents to prevent applicants from bringing in forged or outdated documents. 45 days GHS 125
* 3 Obtain fire protection opinion report
Agency: Fire Department

The fire safety drawings are presented to the Fire Service Authority. The cost of the permit depends on the drawing and the project. 14 days GHS 100
* 4 Obtain an environmental impact approval certificate
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency

Depending how complex the building is, an environmental impact assessment report, a hydro report and a traffic management report may be required.

In the Doing Business case study, an environmental impact assessment report and the traffic management report would be required. 7 days GHS 700
5 Apply for building permit with the Town and Country Planning Department
Agency: Town and Country Planning Department/ Works Department

Once the preliminary approval has been obtained, the architect will submit the following to the Town and Country Planning Department:
– 4 sets of drawings, including the septic tank drawings
– Fire permit
– Soil report – not applicable for Doing Business case study
– Structural Assessment for buildings that are 3 storeys or higher – not applicable for Doing Business case study
– Copy of the title certificate and the form from the Land Commission showing correct ownership
– EPA clearance certificate – for all developments
– Traffic management report – when applicable (mainly for big developments in downtown Accra).
– Approval of architectural and engineering design

The TCPD has been decentralized and so the local level in Accra is part of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). To start the approval process for the building permit, a technical committee is set up by the TCPD, including other officials within the AMA. After the technical examination, a recommendation is made to the Statutory Planning Committee (SPC). The SPC is an intergovernmental committee made up of officials from the TCPD, Works Department, Land Commission Survey Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Survey Department, the Fire Service, and utility companies who meet periodically to approve building permits. They are required by law to have reviewed the application within 3 months after it is submitted and to inform the applicant of their decision.

The applicant will be informed of the amount of the processing fees and the time limit of 3 months starts as soon as the processing fees have been paid both for the development permit and the construction permit.

There will be a joint inspection by TCPD and the Works Department and each department will issue their own recommendations. BuildCo does not need to be present at the inspection.

The fee schedule for the building permit is as follows: 0.625% of construction cost processing fee of GHS 50 for the development permit GHS 84 30% of GHS 66 per gross floor area of 5000 square ft for the construction permit.

45 days GHS 1,468
6 Receive inspection after foundation has been laid
Agency: Building Inspectorate

Inspections are to be carried out by the building inspectors at the end of each phase of the building: foundation, floor level, lintel, roofing, and finishing. Special coupons are provided when the building permit is granted, and the builder is supposed to send the appropriate coupon to the authorities informing them of the completion of that phase so that an inspection can be conducted. In practice this is rarely done. However, building inspectors are regularly sent to inspect buildings under construction. 1 day no charge
7 Receive inspection after floor level has been finished
Agency: Building Inspectorate

Inspections are to be carried out by the building inspectors at the end of each phase of the building: foundation, floor level, lintel, roofing, and finishing. Special coupons are provided when the building permit is granted, and the builder is supposed to send the appropriate coupon to the authorities informing them of the completion of that phase so that an inspection can be conducted. In practice this is rarely done. However, building inspectors are regularly sent to inspect buildings under construction. 1 day no charge
8 Receive inspection after lintel has been finished
Agency: Building Inspectorate

Inspections are to be carried out by the building inspectors at the end of each phase of the building: foundation, floor level, lintel, roofing, and finishing. Special coupons are provided when the building permit is granted, and the builder is supposed to send the appropriate coupon to the authorities informing them of the completion of that phase so that an inspection can be conducted. In practice this is rarely done. However, building inspectors are regularly sent to inspect buildings under construction. 1 day no charge
9 Receive inspection after roofing has been finished
Agency: Building Inspectorate

Inspections are to be carried out by the building inspectors at the end of each phase of the building: foundation, floor level, lintel, roofing, and finishing. Special coupons are provided when the building permit is granted, and the builder is supposed to send the appropriate coupon to the authorities informing them of the completion of that phase so that an inspection can be conducted. In practice this is rarely done. However, building inspectors are regularly sent to inspect buildings under construction. 1 day no charge
10 Request and receive final inspection from Fire Services
Agency: Ghana Fire Services

Ghana Fire Services carries out a detailed inspection of the building. If the building is in compliance with approved fire safety drawings/plans, a certificate is issued within 2 weeks. This certificate is needed in order to request a final inspection from the municipal authorities. 14 days no charge
11 Receive final inspection from Accra Metropolitan Assembly
Agency: Accra Metropolitan Assembly

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly carries out a final inspection. 1 day no charge
12 Obtain certificate of habitation/occupancy
Agency: Building Inspectorate

This request is not mandatory and most owners do not request this inspection. BuildCo will inform the Building Inspectorate upon completion of construction and a joint committee will inspect the building to determine if it was constructed according to the approved plans. If this is not the case, then the architect will have to re-file the plans of the building as it has been constructed. 30 days GHS 367
13 Request water connection
Agency: Ghana Water Company Ltd.

1 day no charge
14 Obtain inspection from Ghana Water Company
Agency: Ghana Water Company Ltd.

An inspection of the construction site to determine the cost is conducted and an estimate is providing to the applicant. Water will be connected only after payment has been made. 1 day no charge
15 Obtain water connection
Agency: Ghana Water Company Ltd.

30 days GHS 1,000 * Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.
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