12 MPs warn government

maTwelve Members of Parlia­ment (MPs) and two civil so­ciety groups have said restrictions- on the expansion of oil and gas facilities at the Takoradi Port until Lonrho has recovered ail of its investment in the Atuabo Freeport and made enough profit will collapse port and related busi­nesses in the Sekondi-Takoradi me­tropolis and worsen the already bad unemployment situation.

According to them, Parliament has approved a €197-million loan facility for Takoradi Port to expand and pro­vide oil and gas services to the emerg­ing petroleum business in the Western Region.

In addition, Takoradi Port is in the process of contracting another $400 million for the purpose of fur­ther expanding its facilities to provide oil and gas services.

The MPs are Joseph Cudjoe, MP for Effia; Mohammed Salisu Bamba, Ejura Sekyeredumase; Henry Kwabena Kokofu, Bantam a; Hawa Koomson, Evvutu Senya East; Johnson Kwaku Adu, Ahafo Ano South; Mustapha Usif, Tagaba/Kubori; Kingsley Atta-Boafo, Fomena; Fran­cis Ma.nu-Adabor, Ahafo Ano East; Philip Basoah, Kufhawu; Mathew Nyiridam, Kpandai; Kofi Brako, Tema Central; and Kwaku Kwarteng, Obuasi West.

The two civil society organisations are Takoradi Port Vendors Association at Effiakuma New Site and Develop­ment Data, a policy research and ad­vocacy organisation.

In a letter to the Attorney-General, the 12 MPs noted that in spite of these, government and Lonrho have signed ‘ an agreement to impose restrictions on Takoradi Port from engaging in oil and gas services.

“If this restriction is allowed to re­main, Takoradi Port cannot repay its loans, the port and related businesses in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis would collapse, and the unemploy­ment that will attend this collapse will be unbearable for the nation.

“It also needs to be noted that, in anticipation of expanded oil and gas business at the Takoradi Port, both local and foreign businessmen and in­vestors have invested in the residen­tial, commercial and real estate sectors in Sekondi-Takoradi and the surround­ing townships.

“Hotels, restaurants, financial insti­tutions, etc have all invested substan­tially in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis. So the exclusion of Tako­radi Port from the oil and gas business poses serious risk to these investors. It would not augur well for Ghana’s in­vestment policy credibility.

“We support government’s effort at giving Western Region two ports. We don’t support killing one port to estab­lish another,” they said.

They also raised issues with the suggestion by Lonrho that it cannot bring itself under the regulation of the GPIIA, Ghana’s sole regulator of ports.

According to them, government and Lonrho have put a clause in the Atuabo Freeport agreement that Lon­rho would deal with GPHA at arm’s length if at all Lonrho decides to deal with the GPHA, and this can be found in Clause 13.2 of the Atuabo Freeport agreement.

“This disregard for Ghana’s institu­tions is wrong and unacceptable.

“We take the view that while we seek to resolve these matters regard­ing the restrictions on Takoradi Port and the regulatory functions of Ghana’s sole regulator of ports (the GPHA), nothing stops Lonrho Ports Ltd from proceeding with the building of the Atuabo Freeport. Once again, we are urging Lonrho to proceed with the project.

“If they are having difficulty rais­ing money to start the project, govern­ment should be truthful about the causes of the delay,” the MPs said.

Last week, President John Mahama and the Petroleum Minister, Mr Armah Kofi Buah, stated publicly that the delay in the start of the Atuabo Freeport project is coming from some MPs.

But the 12 MPs say the claims are false and misleading, adding;’ “We, the said Members of Parliament, state for the records that there is currently no court injunction on the Atuabo Freeport project.”

They also noted that there is no court action against the project, an4 challenged government to tell the pub­lic the suit numbers of the suit the President and Mr Armah Kofi Buah are attributing the delay to.

According to them, it is obvious that the cause of the delay is the inabil­ity of government and Lonrho Ports to find the money to finance the project.

source: modernghana.com