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16.04.2008 Business & Finance

Gonja DCE denies $46m bribery charge…to aid establishment of cement factory at Buipe

By Edmond Gyebi, Tamale - Ghanaian Chronicle
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The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Central Gonja, Mr. Yakubu Zakaria, has debunked the allegation by some people in the area, that he had secretly taken about $46 million as bribe from the Savanna Cement Company (SAVACEM).

The alleged bribe, according to speculations, was given to the DCE in order to front for SAVACEM in acquiring the over 300 acres of land, required for the establishment of the new cement factory at Bupei.

Mr. Zakaria, who was reacting in an interview with The Chronicle, emphasized that there had not been any such secret transaction, between him and the SAVACEM, and therefore described the rumour as “an attempt to dent his political career.”

The DCE said his major interest was to see to it that the factory was successfully established in the area, to create employment for the idle youth.

The management of SAVACEM is currently in negotiations with traditional leaders at Bupei, for the release of a 300 acre land required for the establishment of the company.

However, some of his detractors, from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), were inciting the youth and some few traditional leaders, to oppose the establishment of the factory, just to discredit his administration and the government.

Mr. Zakaria stressed the need for the opposition members to differentiate between politics and developmental needs of the people. Saying, “If you don't like me or the government, you should not prevent the few fortunes that are coming the way of the people”.

The DCE, however, promised to provide a peaceful environment for SAVACEM, and other investors, to establish in the Central Gonja District, for more jobs for the people.

Meanwhile, the Project Manager for SAVACEM, Mr. Ofosu Mensah, in another interview with The Chronicle, said the company had not paid any such money to the DCE.

According to him, the allegation was ridiculous and carefully calculated to tarnish the image of the DCE and the company, since the entire capital for the establishment of the cement company was not up to the said $46 million.

The Project Manager complained that the major problem now, was how to get final approval from the traditional leaders in Bupei, for the acquisition of the 300 acre land for their operation.

When completed, SAVACEM, according to Mr. Ofosu-Mensah, would offer jobs to over 500 idle youth in the Central Gonja District.

He disclosed that about 70% of the company's equipment had arrived at the project site, and that the factory would move into full operation, after the land deal had been sealed with the chief, though exploration works had been completed.

Mr. Ofosu-Mensah said SAVACEM would live up to its social responsibilities, and also prioritize the health needs of the people in the area.

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