Some former government appointees, who were given six government cold stores to run under the John Mahama administration, have allegedly mismanaged the facilities and owe the government and utility service providers millions of Ghana Cedis.
There is a debt of GH¢6 million in failed monthly installments to the State, plus millions of Cedis in utility bills left unpaid.
Adom News Reporter, Kwame Anum who has been following the story has reported that in 2016, the Fisheries Ministry, with support from the Spanish government, built six cold stores in six fishing communities.
The facilities, which were to help arrest post-harvest losses, were located in Half Asini, New Takoradi and Shama in the Western Region; Kromanste and Nyanyano in the Central Region; and Prampram in the Greater Accra Region.
The cold stores were duly assigned to six National Democratic Congress (NDC) members to manage under a contract which required them to pay GH¢32,000.00 each to the government every month.
Adom News has, however, gathered from documented evidence that for the past three years, none of the facility managers has paid a pesewa to the State.
In addition to the debt owed the government, the facilities have also piled up unpaid utility bills of between GH¢300,000.00 and GH¢500,000.00 each.
The Deputy Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister, Mr Francis Ato Cudjoe, confirmed that the Ministry in 2016 signed an agreement with a consultancy firm called the Supply Chain Limited, to supervise the running of the facilities and the consultancy firm also signed an agreement with five management companies to run the facilities and pay GH¢32,000.00 monthly to the government.
“When we took over, we noticed that these management companies have failed to heed to the requirements in the agreement. Aside that, each facility has accrued electricity bill ranging from GH¢ 300,000.00 to GH¢500,000.00,” he explained.
The contract and suspicious ownership
Adom News toured all six facilities and found that apart from the Shama and New Takoradi cold stores that are currently operational, the four others at Half Asini, Saltpond, Nyanyano and Prampram are defunct.
The four facilities have been left to gather dust and are succumbing to the aggression of weeds.
Kwame Anum reports that the facilities have become a haven for reptiles and other wild animals.
“Indeed, they have been left to rot,” he reported.
Adom News investigations also revealed that two of the cold stores were given to executives or influential members of the NDC.
The New Takoradi cold store is currently being handled by a former Deputy Western Regional Women’s Organiser of the NDC, Araba Tagoe, while the Shama cold store is being managed by the immediate-past Member of Parliament of the area, Mr Gabriel Kodwo Essilfie.
The Deputy Fisheries Minister confirmed that “…some of the faces we saw as managers when we toured the facilities were the previous regime’s party members so we suspect that due diligence was not done in awarding the management contract.”
When Adom News asked Mr Essilfie why he failed to pay what was due the State, he said: “I cannot pay the government the expected cash; I have run the facility for almost three years, and couldn’t make any profit that can make me pay such monies. The Ministry should rather focus on supporting us to serve the community because the cold stores are not profitable.”
The current District Chief Executive of Ningo-Prampram, Mr Jonathan Teye Docu, also said his NDC left no documents covering the status of the cold store but left a GH¢400,000.00 electricity power debt.
Meanwhile, some residents of New Takoradi, who were ejected to make way for the construction of the cold store, told Adom News they have not been paid any compensation since 2015.
According to them, they were promised GH¢3,000.00 each as compensation but are yet to receive a pesewa.
Some fishermen in the communities where the four of the cold stores are completely out of use said fish storage is now a big challenge, adding that it is sad for them to see heavy equipment like industrial refrigerators and standby generators go waste.
Source: Kwame Anum | Adom News