GABRIEL ATSU, the coordinator of the Ashaiman Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centre has said that notwithstanding the achievement his outfit has recorded over the last 13 years, the centre is currently in a bad state as the wooden structure accommodating its offices is fast dilapidating.
The situation, according to Mr. Atsu, was hampering the smooth operations of the centre as the wooden structure which is divided into two, with one serving as a court and the other as an office was not providing officials with the needed space to work in confidentiality.
The centre, he continued, was not only in a dilapidated state but also lacked facilities and logistics required to perform its duty of resolving disputes amongst residents of the area and its environs. According to him, the centre, since its inauguration, had depended on the services of an external private commercial secretarial service for a lot of its works.
Payments of these services, he explained, were always made from proceeds the centre made from services rendered to clients and quickly added that it was affecting the centre’s revenue generation.
‘Confidentiality which is an important element of the Centre’s operations is what we are hoping to achieve. Mediation process is supposed to be done in confidentiality but here at our office, clients sit in one room while mediation is done which is not the right way to go about it. Clients are supposed to sit in separate rooms because confidentiality is very key in our effort to resolve these disputes,’ the Coordinator remarked.
Conducting this paper round the Centre, Mr. Atsu pointed to a few old chairs which he said are given to clients who visit the place, adding that his office has inadequate furniture and could not boast of any office equipment. He stated that during the third International Africa Peace and Conflict Resolution Conference in July 2011, California Laws for Arts from the United States of America visited the Centre and promised to help the Centre with necessary equipment and later donated an Apple brand laptop without a printer.
‘It is in line with ensuring that we are able to serve our clients better that we are making this appeal. We will be in a much better position to effectively discharge our duties if we are supported with a more spacious office, proved with more furniture and better office equipment such as computers, photocopier, scanner and a printer,’ the Ashaiman ADR Coordinator stressed.
He said several attempts by his outfit to get some assistance from the government has not been anything positive and appealed to corporate outfits, institutions, philanthropists and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) to come to their aid.
The Centre has amicably resolved 1,123 out of the 1,159 cases brought before the centre in one year (January-December 2012) with 999 rent related issues topping the types of cases it resolved.
The Ashaiman ADR Centre was established in September 2000 as a pilot ADR operation in the country to provide settlement of disputes by arbitration, mediation, customary arbitration and other related matters.
The system, he said, is made of procedures and various processes other than court trials. It does not only serve the Ashaiman municipality but neighbouring communities like Ningo, Ada, Nungua, Tema and other communities.
Its operations were regularized in 2010 when Parliament passed the Alternative Dispute Act 798 of 2010 to replace the Arbitration Act of 1961, Act 38.
From Razak Mardorgyz Abubakar, Ashaiman