Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sammy Gyamfi has said the demolition of some property at the Trade Fair Centre in Accra, Sunday, was politically motivated.
Speaking last Monday on Joy News Mr. Gyamfi described as ‘barbaric’ the decision to reduce factories to debris, stressing that the act was unlawful.
“As a party, we condemn in no uncertain terms, this draconian demolition exercise which was carried out by the National Security and the authorities of Trade Fair. It is illegal, improper, unconscionable, unfair and barbaric,” he said.
“Clearly, this is a political job. What they have done has got nothing to do with the law. It is politically-motivated. It is a clear case of injustice,” he added.
Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited (GTFCL) pulled down a number of structures belonging to different companies following a redevelopment project it intends to undertake.
The exercise which began around 10pm and ended after 12:00am saw two bulldozers and a team of armed police officers overseeing the destruction of structures and heavy industrial equipment.
Chief Executive Officer of Universal Labels & Packaging Co. Ltd and Colour Planet Limited, Raymond Archer, whose facilities were among the many that were demolished told journalists his factory had been in operation for over a decade and had injected a whopping $10 million into the business.
A visibly worried Mr. Archer said government erred because his lawyers earlier filed an appeal and a stay of execution after officials went to court to lift an injunction that the court had placed on the Trade Fair.
“Four years ago, I was here when officials came that they want to redevelop the Trade Fair so I said okay. I’m a legal tenant and my construction was actually supervised by the Trade Fair. I’ve put in $10 million here…so they started doing a whole lot of things here which made me head to court,” he recalled.
He wondered why businesses will be targeted for destruction in the incessant quest to erect another for political reasons.
He said: “We built a beautiful factory that employs over 120 workers, there are a lot of products were are doing now that we’re are the only factory in Africa that can do these kinds of works. So to see our government target a business like this and break it down midnight is really unacceptable.
“We are citizens here. How do you destroy one’s business because you want to bring another person’s business using politics? If you destroy my business with politics, then what? If I also get power, I also break it down? Where did we go as a people? And this business has nothing to do with politics. In fact, when I was doing this business, I specifically not to do government projects purposely because I didn’t want the politics in my business. Every work we’re doing here is for private sector.
“So to target the business, [and say] ‘we’re government, you can’t fight the government…’;’I’m not here to fight the government; I’m here to earn a living and an honest one at that.”
But GTFCL in a statement refuted suggestions it had targeted some businesses for demolition at the International Trade Fair Center in Accra due to political reasons.
“The GTFCL wants to make it categorically clear that, contrary to what is being speculated in the media, no business or businesses have ever been targeted for demolition because of their political or other affiliations,” portions of the statement read.
On the claim GTFCL was served with an injunction, the entity said it was untrue.
“When the Company commenced demolition of some redundant facilities in the first quarter of 2019, some of the businesses took the Company to court and further secured an injunction to restrain the Company from evicting them from the site.
“On Wednesday 12th February 2020 His Lordship Emmanuel Amo Yartey (J) of the High Court of Justice, Land Court 7, vacated the injunction order “for the Government to go ahead with the facelift of the Ghana Trade Fair site for the betterment of the nation as well as Plaintiffs…”
“Following the vacation of the injunction order demolition of some structures took place on the night of Sunday the 16th of February 2020. Contrary to what is being speculated, the GTFCL was never served any notice of any further injunction granted by any Court. Had we been served we would surely have respected it as we did previously.”
The demolition, according to GTFCL, was as part of plans to re-develop the area into an ultra-modern, first class, mixed use facility with a focus on trade facilitation and business promotion.
“Since 2017 the Ghana Trade Fair Company has been engaging key stakeholders to redevelop the site. A Masterplan has been approved by the Board and Cabinet, and a horizontal developer secured with PPA approval on 28th June 2019 to provide the critical infrastructure needed for the lease of the site to private developers to develop the various facilities earmarked in the Masterplan to support the Ghana Trade Fair Company’s Convention and Exhibition Facilities. What has been in the way of the redevelopment are a number of structures on site occupied by a number of businesses, whose agreements had long expired.
“The GTFCL had informed all the tenants about the redevelopment project and gave them the mandatory 6-month notice on July 10 2018 to vacate the site by 31st December of the same year.
“Prior to this, on September 24, 2017, the Company sent notices to all tenants to renew their tenancy agreements for another year. Reminders followed on November 1st 2017 to renew by November 10, 2017 for the last time before the redevelopment was to start in 2019”.
Story: News DESK