World Cup Project Co-ordinator Admits Committees Failed

The Project Co-ordinator of Ghana’s 2014 World Cup campaign Secretariat, Fred Darko, yesterday admitted to the Presidential Commission that the subcommittees collectively failed in their operations.

He made the acknowledgement while testifying on his second appearance after it emerged that even the three tour operators contracted to fly supporters to Brazil were not tied to any legal contract.

“There was no formal contract with the travel and tour operators,” he said in response to a question by the chairman of the commission, Justice Senyo Dzamefe.

Wednesday’s sitting started an hour late to enable technicians to connect power from the stadium generator in order to forestall the situation which resulted in power failure disrupting proceedings the previous day.

Presidential ball

Mr Darko, who is also the chief executive Officer of Evolution International, while answering questions on the Presidential Ball, disclosed that a little over GH¢500,000 was realised from that event as part of their fundraising drive, but noted that it cost them GH¢37,665,441 to organise it.

“Why such a huge expenditure on Presidential Ball,” enquired Justice Dzamefe. In response, the project co-ordinator explained that the organisers engaged the services of Labadi Beach Hotel for catering services, as well as the provision of drinks and other services because it was a high-profile event which had the President and his vice in attendance.

He also said providing costumes to the players and the technical team also contributed to the huge bill.

Promotion flop

Mr Darko explained that a point the organising committee had to withdraw radio commercials for the ‘Fanatic Promotion’ because expected revenues were not forthcoming, complaining also about how MTN had dwarfed their campaign despite an earlier agreement that none of the country’s telecommunications companies should run any such promotion.

Following that disclosure, Justice Dzamefe asked if they had signed any documents to that effect, to which the witness responded in the affirmative.

But he added that the campaign generated a total of GH¢224,902.00 out of which the Ministry of Youth and Sports expected to receive GH¢136,740.00.

Akosombo retreat

He also said as part of their preparations the organising committee spent two nights at Akosombo “to brainstorm and to realign with their plans” where they also held discussions with the travel and tour operators and officials of the Ghana Football Association (GFA).

The witness said it was during those deliberations that the travel and tour operators decided to form a consortium to lift supporters to Brazil.

Again, based on the meeting, the organising committee developed a manifest for each of the travel and tour operators with Kenpong Travel and Tours, and Africa Travel and Sports Tourism expected to fly 270 fans each, while Travel Matters was given 160 fans.

Non-payment of travel and tour operators

It emerged that because the organisers did not pay the travel and tour operators, Travel Matters, which chartered the aircraft to Brazil, decided to put 70 of its passengers on the plane. This development, Mr Darko said, was the genesis of the confusion at the Kotoka International Airport.

But the chairman intervened saying that since Travel Matters were not pinned by any contract they were not obliged to carry the supporters.

“In fact, they did you a favour by lifting your supporters to Brazil,” Justice Dzamefe added.

Mission at Brazil

The witness said he left with the first batch of supporters to Brazil because he had to redeem match tickets at the FIFA tickets centre for the supporters.

Mr Darko said it was in Brazil that he heard about reports from Ghana suggesting were that supporters starving while others were sleeping on the floor.

“I then visited the camp to ascertain what was happening in camp,” he said, and noted that to his surprise what pertained on the ground was contrary to the negative picture painted by the media reports.

Carrying of cash to Brazil

The project co-ordinator said he signed for and carried some cash to Brazil, but when asked how much he took, he responded, “My Lord, it was a little over $100,000 but I cannot readily recall the exact figure unless I check with the ministry.”

But when he was alerted that he risked committing perjury his counsel, Alex Abban, intervened pleading with the chairman to adjourn the sitting to enable his client to go and refresh his memory.

Hearing continues.