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10.07.2003 General News

Return Subin Timber Company to ailing owner

By gna
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Accra, July 10, GNA - The adopted son of a Takoradi-based timber merchant on Thursday appealed to the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to help de-confiscate his father's company - Subin Timber Company. Mr Daniel Kofi Adobor said the company that was seized in 1982 should be returned to Mr Ohene Kofi, Takoradi-based Timber Merchant, who is suffering from stroke.

Mr Adobor, unemployed, said Mr Kofi held 51 per cent shares in the company, and it would be useless if he should die before the company would be de-confiscated.

"If the old man should die before the de-confiscation, we might as well forget it," he said.

According to Mr Adobor, the NDC government put the Company on the divestiture list, "but nobody was interested and almost everything had broken down."

He said Mr Kofi had a shock when he went with a team from the Attorney-General's Department to the site of the company at Apowa in September last year, and had since last December been suffering from stroke.

He said what was left of the company was between 10 and 15 per cent, adding that it was in a terrible state.

Mr Adobor said he had reliable information that the Attorney -General's Department had finished its work for Subin Timber Company to be returned to his adopted father, but "unfortunately some interests are working against us".

He said the Attorney -General's Department told them to expect the release of the company in December and attributed his adopted father's stroke to the failure to release the company to him. Mr Adobor appealed to the Commission to call for the file of the confiscated Subin Timber Company from the Department for prompt action. He said petitions had gone to a number of government personalities including the Vice President, several ministers and the Government Spokesman, but nothing has been done.

He said Mr Kofi agreed to take five billion cedis, representing half of the estimated value of the remains of the company, but after visiting the site, he opted to take back his company instead of the amount.

Mr Adobor said Mr Kofi, who went into the timber business in 1951, had the business located in Kumasi and Takoradi. He said Mr Kofi became a joint owner with an Italian in 1975, owning 51 per cent of the company and the Italian 49 per cent. They contracted 35 million dollars loan in the form of equipment and machinery from Italy, and within six years, Mr Kofi had paid 25 million dollars of the amount.

He said the Company had 25 caterpillars, 40 timber trucks, 20 service vehicles, one grader and one timber jack, among other things, and was employing 3,000 workers.

Mr Adobor said in 1979, the Company had a concession at Senkyire, near Fosu, which required the construction of a nine-kilometre road into the concession.

He said it was agreed, between the Company and the chiefs in surrounding villages that the road should pass through the villages to ease the problem of transportation, although that would increase the distance from nine to 25 kilometres.

He said despite paying compensation to the affected farmers, it was reported to the then government of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) that the Company had destroyed a number of cocoa farms in the process of constructing the road.

Mr Adobor said the Italian partner of the Company, who had then travelled outside the country, was picked at the Airport for questioning on the destruction of the farms.

Mr Adobor said the Italian was freed after he explained that the constriction was to help the villages.

Mr Adobor said three hours after the announcement of the December 31, 1981 coup, military and police personnel surrounded the company at Apowa and its land extension meant for the development of estate houses. He said they chased the workers out with guns and other weapons and made away with foreign money as well as company documents. The Italian partner, who was then on trip outside the country, never came back.

He said 10 months later they had a letter signed by the Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, confiscating the company to the State.

He said when they made efforts to redeem the Company; the security agencies threatened that "we will have ourselves to blame".

Mr Adobor said he sent a petitioned to the High Court in 1992, but they were advised to seek assistance from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). They complied but to no avail. They Attorney - General's Department later called for the file, "and since then, we have been going up and down".

Mr Adobor said: "PNDC shot us, NDC put us in the coffin, the present Government should not nail us."

Commissioner General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, remarked that it was a great shame not to appreciate what a number of people were doing to improve the quality of life of Ghanaians, and gave an assurance to Mr Adobor that the Commission would certainly follow the matter up.

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