The Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited (GTFCL) has debunked media reports that it has targeted some businesses for demolition at the International Trade Fair Center in Accra due to political reasons.
According to management of the company in a release, “finally, 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.”
On Sunday night, an edifice housing printing and packaging factory belonging to Raymond Archer, publisher of Enquirer newspaper, was demolished, alongside other commercial properties at the Trade Fair Center.
Mr. Archer has since been running riot in the media claiming that the demolition was politically motivated.
However, the Trade Fair Company observed in its statement that “in our view the Company took all necessary steps to inform the businesses about the redevelopment Project and tried to protect them and their investments.”
The statement recounted that
since 2017 the Ghana Trade Fair Company has been engaging key stakeholders to redevelop the site.
It said 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,” it added.
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, according to the statement.
Prior to this, on September 24, 2017, the Company sent notices to all tenants to renew their tenancy agreements for another year, it noted.
“Reminders followed on November 1st 2017 to renew by November 10, 2017 for the last time before the redevelopment was to start in 2019.”
Since 31st December 2018, it noted, therefore, none of the business on site had any valid tenancy agreement with the GTFCL.
In November 2018 the Company took the initiative to engage with the businesses one-on-one to discuss the redevelopment project and its impact on them. Some of the businesses took advantage of the offer, others didn’t, the statement added.
“Despite the expiration of the agreements the Company has been very cooperative with the businesses with the view to finding the least disruptive means of achieving the goal of redevelopment.”
It explained that “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, it said.
“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.”
It is worthy of note that the previous agreements had clauses that clearly forbade tenants from developing permanent structures on the site, it said.
“It further informed them of the impending developments and the Master plan developed for that purpose. They were warned that the implementation of the Master Plan would involve demolishing of some structures. They were advised to be mindful of the level of funds they invest in structures and to use materials that can easily be dismantled,” the statement explained.
BY Melvin Tarlue