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19.10.2005 General News

Songhor people kick against MOU

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Accra, Oct. 19, GNA - The Chief and People of Ada on Wednesday condemned a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) one of the clans signed with the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) and Messrs Cgyni Company Limited to mine salt in the Songhor Lagoon Basin.

Mr Albert Apetorgbor, Secretary of the clans, said at a press conference in Accra that four traditional clans owned the Songhor Lagoon and no single group had the exclusive mandate to engage any investor to operate in the Basin.

He accused the Tekperbiawe clan as styling itself as representative of the other clans without the involvement of the Acting Divisional Head and the accredited Libi priest (Songhor Lagoon priest) to clinch a deal with PEF and Messrs Cygni.

"We the clans represented here condemn, in no uncertain terms the attempt by the said representatives of the Tekperbiawe clan who seek to (give out) our lands without authorization and consent."

Mr Apetorgbor said members of the other clan do not recognise the agreement as it was fraudulent, sinister and breach of trust and urged the security agencies to investigate the process of the contract in the name of peace.

He subsequently advised any group of persons seeking to invest in the Songhor Lagoon to investigate the social structures and the allodia owners before entering into any kind of agreement to forestall sowing the seed of discord and create the impression that the people were not united.

Mr Apetorgbor pointed out that PEF and Messrs Cgyni Co Ltd were aware of the structural arrangement at Songhor yet they went ahead to sign the MOU.

"This speaks volumes and raises eyebrows and can only be described as attempt to stir stable and calm waters to give a dog a bad name to hang it.

"Previous experiences with Vacuum Salt Products Ltd are still fresh on our minds. As a result we will not welcome multinational investors with absolute monopoly to operate in the Lagoon to maximise profit to the detriment of the people."

He said the people were not against investment in the area, but they believed in fair competition among companies to break monopoly. Mr. Apketorgbor noted that a few Ghanaian companies had been offered concessions yet they had not been given licence by the appropriate government agencies to commence business.

"Why is government refusing or denying them licences to operate in their own country and for over three years they have been struggling?" Mr. Apketorgbor contended that there were equally competent Ghanaian companies that had the expertise to work in the lagoon.

"It sounds absurd to say that Ghanaian investors did not have the ability and capacity in the salt industry. What about successful companies such as Pambros in Weija among other companies? They must be given the chance."

He said government was unable to intervene or put in regulatory and appropriate control measures to safeguard the citizens and the environment.

Mr Akpetorgbor therefore called on government to expedite action on honouring its decision to repeal the PNDC (LI) 287 to return the Basin to its natural owners, as it was the cause of confusion in the area.

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