You are here: HomeNews2017 04 18Article 529663

Opinions of Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Columnist: citifmonline.com

Obrempong writes: The mystery of Takoradi’s shopping mall that never was!

The imaginary mall, when completed, was expected to employ some 2,000 workers, according to the initiators of the project.

But the irony was that, the construction was to affect the livelihood of about 2,800 people operating on the land.

To cut a long story short, the shopping mall never happened, at least after over 3 years, but the 2,800 were painfully evicted from the very land they had nurtured their business for years. Some lost their lifetime assets.

Others could not withstand the pain brought upon them. But till date, the site from where they were ejected is a “Jubilee Forest Reserve” sitting in the middle of Takoradi.

To understand how a fully occupied site for garages became a “forest reserve”, let go back into time.

Former president John Mahama had won the 2012 elections amidst controversy.

The matter was sent to the Supreme Court. Whilst hearing of the case was ongoing in 2013, discussions were underway with the garage’s leadership for a possible relocation of some 2,800 estimated artisans at Tanokrom Kokompe, to make way for a proposed Takoradi Shopping Mall.

The characters involved in the negotiations, at least, as it was made to the public, were former MCE of the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly Capt.

Rtd Anthony Cudjoe, Peter Obosu of Peekob Constructions (Contractor of the mall), and Kwamina Kwadzie, Secretary of Garages. Later, representatives of Amnesty International came in.

Supreme Court ruling on the 2012 election had been announced in August 29th, 2013. Investors could now heave a sigh of relief. Close door negotiations continued till January 2014. Sadly, negotiations hit a deadlock.

The artisans had shown at every meeting that they were not going to leave the prime site behind the Takoradi Jubilee Grounds for the Shopping Mall to commence unless a new site fit for their operations is secured.

At about this time, the matter had left the circles of meeting rooms to the one that was fiercely debated on public radio.

Supreme Court ruling on the 2012 election had been announced in August 29th, 2013. Investors could now heave a sigh of relief. Close door negotiations continued till January 2014. Sadly, negotiations hit a deadlock.

The artisans had shown at every meeting that they were not going to leave the prime site behind the Takoradi Jubilee Grounds for the Shopping Mall to commence unless a new site fit for their operations is secured.

At about this time, the matter had left the circles of meeting rooms to the one that was fiercely debated on public radio.

However, the artisans rejected the new site on grounds of the distance which could deprive them of customers, coupled with the dusty or slippery nature of the main road during rain or shine.

“Even if your car has no problem, the nature of the road will break it down if you visit the site”, Effia MP, Joseph Cudjoe [in whose constituency were the artisans] said.

The artisans also complained of security of their machinery, as the area was yet to be developed.

They also had issues with the land because the Atuabo Gas Processing plant pipeline to Aboadze for power generation was passing through parts of the same land.

Controversy over ownership of the new site What might have sealed the decision of the artisans not to relocate was the confusion over the ownership of the over 50 acres of land that they were to relocate to.

One family told me in an interview in the heat of the debate that “the land belongs to the Agona Anona Family at Mampong.

Any one [Referring to the artisans] who will dare go to occupy the land for their work, we have the right to stop them”.

Another Family at Kansaworado; Sikaduase Eburaze, also stated in unequivocal terms that “the land on which the artisans are going to be sent belong to us”. Whist at it, another family elder at Sekondi also mentioned in an interview on Skyy Power FM that “our portion of the land is 49.50 [acres], the greatest land!” Before this brouhaha, the family Elder from Sekondi had said that “He [Peter Obosu – the contractor of the project] had spoken to us about his intent to acquire the land but he has not paid for it.

Same day at same time at Skyy Power Fm, Mr. Obosu had said that “we had also paid half of it to the other side”.

It was very confusing! Court Order The controversy was gaining momentum. Not a single day passed without discussions of the matter on radio stations in the Sekondi-Takoradi.

News was finally served by the MCE, Capt. Rtd Anthony Cudjoe, that the Sekondi High Court has ordered him “to ensure vacant possession of the land” which the artisans had occupied for decades.

The order meant that, if the artisans fail to relocate, some security forces had to be used to forcefully eject them.