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Business News of Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Trade Fair Centre in ruins

The Ghana Trade Fair Centre, the once magnificent edifice meant to host major local and international fairs, has been left to rot; a situation which makes it unattractive and safe to host any major fair or exhibition.

Built some five decades ago, the centre, which is in the care of the Ghana Trade Fair Company, under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was meant to be a site to showcase the works of industrialists in the country as part of efforts to promote made-in-Ghana goods as well as serve as a platform for other countries, mostly from the sub-region to exhibit their products and services and promote the sub regional integration agenda.

State of structures

Most the structures are in very deplorable state. The roofs of the two main pavilions (A/B) have virtually come off, making it impossible to host any major event.

Individuals or organisations which intend to use the facilities in their present poor state would have to pay GH?1,500 per day.

Again, the wooden structures erected around those two pavilions to accommodate mainly small scale exhibitors such as traders in handicraft and members of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) are in very bad state. Entering from the main gate on the left, a new pavilion still under construction which was meant to be used as an ICT Centre has been permanently converted into a mini supermarket owned by a company by name Rice and Sugar. Before that, the pavilion was used as a church premise.

The administration block which has a number of conference rooms have all been abandoned leaving the rooms unattractive to host any event.

At the round pavilion of Pavilion F, the situation is even worse as the roofs have all fallen apart. There are also major cracks on the walls, making it unsafe to accommodate exhibitors.

Around that pavilion is a pond that was used as recreation to ferry children in mini boats around the pavilion.This pond has been neglected and has become a major breeding place for mosquitoes which make life in the evening around the centre uncomfortable.

Some of the abandoned structures around the round pavilion are either being inhabited by squatters or taken over by b reptiles.

Most of the road networks at the back of the rear of the centre are in deplorable state and water easily collects around the areas which have been turned into huge refuse dump where waste of all kinds are dumped and burnt regularly.

The children’s park area, which served as a recreational ground for kids is also overgrown with weeds.

The green grass around the place has given way to weeds while some of the structures meant for entertainment have been taken over by squatters.

Major fairs

The centre has one time hosted many grand exhibitions including the famous Industrial and Technology (INDUTECH) Fair; Ghana Industry and Furniture Exhibition (GIFEX), Grand Sales and many other mini fairs.

Internationally, it was the venue for the ECOWAS Trade Fair where industrialists and traders and business men and women from all over the sub-region converged to exhibit their products and services.

As part of the national day celebrations of some countries in Ghana, they rented the Centre to hold exhibitions where they showcased their products and services to Ghanaians. Key among them was the Turkish, Chinese and those from the Arab world.

These exhibitions became a part of the country’s major event calendar and attracted thousands of people from all walks of life.

Rehabilitation

When reached for his comments, the acting Chief Executive of the centre was not available but sources at the sector ministry revealed that, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has made overtures to the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) to release some funds to begin a rehabilitation exercise of the centre in preparation for the upcoming ECOWAS Trade Fair in October.

Meanwhile, there are plans on the table to embark on a massive redevelopment of the centre later this year.

The project is aimed at raising the image of the Trade Fair Centre to International standards to enable Ghana to attract more exhibitors to future fairs.

The first phase of the project on paper will involve the construction of new pavilions, fully air-conditioned with state-of-the-art facilities; five star hotels among other facilities to bring the centre to international standard.

A company, Pierse-CFC, an Irish company, which was given the contract to do an evaluation of what the new-look centre will be like has since last year submitted its report.

Land litigation

Hanging on the necks of the company part from the challenges of the centre is a heavy land compensation of about US$23 million being demanded by the La stool, owners of the land.

According to the stool, since the then first President took over the site, no compensation had been paid, an issue that many believed had stalled the efforts to develop the site.