Nzema Chiefs Wade Into Lonrho Case

The Chiefs of Eastern Nzema Traditional Council, in the Western region, yesterday waded into the hearing of a motion at a sekondi high Court in which five Minority Mps have sued the government over the restriction on the Takoradi port expansion.

The Nzema Chiefs who were not a party in the case but were represented by a delegation, led by Awulae Agamatu Agyan II, of the Gwira Traditional Area, pleaded for an out-of-court settlement of the case.

According to the chiefs, the fact that the case was in court sent wrong signals to other investors that the atmosphere at the Atuabo area was not conducive for investment.

“So we are here to appeal to the applicants and talk to them to allow us to settle the matter amicably,” the chiefs appealed.

However, all the parties in the case—the applicants, the state and the third party (Lonrho Port)—opposed the appeal from the chiefs,

insisting that since the matter was a legal one, it should be heard and settled by the court.

The plaintiffs assured that the motion was not to stop the construction of the port as had been perceived, but to seek the court’s interpretation on aspects of government’s agreement with Lonrho which imposed a restriction on the Takoradi Port expansion.

Earlier, a State Attorney, Frances Molen Ansah, prayed the court, presided over by Justice Kwabena Ababio, to grant a short adjournment date to enable her outfit file the state’s application in opposition to the motion.

She explained that, instead of serving the Sekondi office of the Attorney General’s Department, the motion was served on the Accra office of the AG and that it was only on Wednesday night that she was informed about the case.

For this reason, she prayed the court for a short adjournment date to enable her outfit study the motion well and file an affidavit in opposition.

Counsel for the applicants, Alex Abban and Lonrho Port, DK Letsa, did not oppose the appeal from the State Attorney and the court accordingly adjourned hearing to September 10, 2014.

Five NPP MPs sued the government over the restriction of the expansion of the Takoradi Port as indicated in Clause 7 of the agreement between government and Lonrho Port, the British company constructing a free port at Atuabo in the Western Region.

The five MPs include Kwabena Okyere Darko, MP for Takoradi constituency; Kwaku Kwarteng, MP for Obuasi West; Joseph Cudjoe, MP for Effia constituency, Mavis Hawa Koomson, MP for Ewutu Senya and Kofi Brako, MP for Tema Central.

According to the MPs, they feared that the approved agreement between the government and the British firm for the development of an oil and gas free port in the Western Region, might stall progress at the Takoradi Port.

They argued that the agreement actually bars all persons and companies from building any oil and gas port facilities in the Western Region until Lonrho had recovered its investment and made its profit.

They have, therefore, insisted that the restriction imposed on Takoradi Port is unlawful and that the move offends Section 5 of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority Act.

Meanwhile, speaking to DAILY GUIDE in an interview, the MP for Takoradi, Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah, indicated that the applicants will visit the Nzema Chiefs on Tuesday to explain to them why they sent the case to court.

FROM Emmanuel Opoku, sekondi

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