‘Government Delays Lonrho Court Case’

The five New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MPs), who have sued the government over the restriction on the expansion of the Takoradi Port at a Sekondi High Court, have accused the government of allegedly delaying the case.

This was after a Sekondi High Court hearing the case adjourned it to September 24, 2014 to give the plaintiffs more time to the study the response from the Attorney General (AG), which was filed yesterday.

Speaking to journalists after the brief proceedings, the Member of Parliament for Takoradi, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, who was not happy with the development, noted that the AG’ office should be up and doing.

According to him, the government was either not ready or playing delaying tactics with the case.

He explained that the AG’s office was supposed to be responding to the issues but when he visited the court earlier to pick the response from the AG, he was told that the AG’s response was not available.

He indicated that the AG filed its response yesterday which was the new adjourned date.

‘The last time we were told that the AG’s office in Sekondi got the information about the case from their own people in Accra just a day before they came to court at the first sitting’

He continued: ‘I think either the government is not ready or want to delay the case.’

He indicated that the case was therefore adjourned so that the plaintiffs would have time to study the response from the AG so that if there was the need for additional affidavits they would be added.

It would be recalled that the case had to be adjourned to 10 th September 2014 after a State Attorney, Frances Molen Ansah, prayed the court, presided over by Justice Kwabena Ababio, to grant a short adjournment 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 she was informed about the case on Wednesday night.

For this reason, she prayed the court for a short adjournment 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.

The five NPP MPs have sued the government over the restriction on 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 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.

They gave the assurance that the motion was not to stop the construction of the port, but seek the court’s interpretation on aspects of government’s agreement with Lonrho, which imposed a restriction on the Takoradi Port expansion.

According to the MPs, they feared that the approved agreement between 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, chiefs of Eastern Nzema Traditional Council, in the Western region, have waded into the matter, pleading for out of court settlement.

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.

From Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi

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