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General News of Friday, 27 February 2009

Source: Richster Nii Amarh Amarfio

Rejoinder: Who "chop chop" aid money?

The Editor


Dear Editor,


My attention was drawn to the above-mentioned caption with a video footage which attempts to implicate myself and few others posturing as government officials and demanding $10m from some Swedish for projects and evidently showing the Chemu Lagoon as the project.

I wish you set the records straight since the story as it stands is damaging and has far reaching implications on my reputation and that of the other distinguish personalities in the footage.

The said footage was taken on February 16th 2006 when a Swedish trade delegation came to Ghana on a trade mission.

Before their arrival in Ghana, I had series of emails requesting that I met with one Amb. Elizabeth Dahlin who had interest in issues of corporate social responsibility. We planned a programme and forwarded it to her. In the said programme we agreed on a visit to Tema and to see the Chemu Lagoon which has been our key area of advocacy and also because it epitomizes a clear case of companies abuse of the environment.

Being an Assembly Member at the time, I took the opportunity to include a visit to the Tema Municipal Assembly and the Tema Traditional Council to the list of places to visit. Our organization works closely with FES so we went to FES where Dr. Raymond Atuguba (also shown in the footage) a consultant to CSRM joined us to express his expert opinion on issues relating to CSR in Ghana. From FES I led the delegation that came with a team of media people to Tema to visit the Chiefs, The Mayor and the Chemu Lagoon. In explaining the extent of damage and also expatiating on the recommendations from the Acres International of Canada report on the Chemu II lagoon restoration report, I told the delegation about the proposed option for restoration and further stated that it may cost close to $10mil to restore the lagoon to near normalcy. All this interactions predate my own visit to Sweden and we sent the delegation there not as government officials. I never saw the footage since it was taken to Sweden immediately afterwards, I could therefore not submit the video which I only saw on Ghana web when prompted as report on project thus requesting for further funding.

It is worthy to note that apart from the Swedish delegation we have ever also sent Germen Geological Students who have seen our tireless advocacy to have the Lagoon restore on our website as well as the press attaché to the German President on his visit to Ghana.

We have organized two stakeholders dialogue with companies attending, one in 2003 and the other in 2005 to see that companies contribute to ensure the lagoon is restored. We are in court “today” with the Tema Oil Refinery over its role in the pollution of the Lagoon and intend to sue other companies and agencies of state that have shirked their responsibility to the lagoon. We have visited the World Bank and discussed the possibility of the Bank adding that to the Urban Envvironment and Sanitation Project (UESP) II since they sponsored the restoration of the pumping station 3 close to the lagoon. I moved several motions on the floor of the Assembly when I was a member of the Tema Municipal Assembly a situation that gave me the name Chemu Lagoon from my colleagues at the time. The Chemu Lagoon restoration has always been my dream and will always take all manner of people to see that “murder of nature”.

The Chemu Lagoon is the core reason we have a relation with Storm Cunningham and the revitalization institute and it is the cardinal reason they host our website but they have not doled out money to us for the purpose.

We do all this with funds, most of which is administered directly from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. We did not take money from Sweden to have the Lagoon restored that is factually incorrect so the footage cannot represent the said story.

The responsibility of ensuring the restoration of the lagoon is onerously a state responsibility, what we seek to do is to demand for that responsibility and ensure that society holds such companies that contributed to the pollution responsible. We also seek to have them exhibit some sense of responsibility to the people directly or indirectly impacted on by the commissions and omissions of corporate and institutional activities. The Tema Chemu lagoon has served the people well and it is only proper that it is restored. It is my wish that you post this rejoinder. Thank you.

Richster Nii Amarh Amarfio