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14.04.2006 Business & Finance

Cold War Over WAHOME

By Crusading Guide By: Anas Aremeyaw Anas

Information gathered from the office of the President indicates that there is a cold war brewing between WAHOME Steel Limited which has the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) as its majority shareholder and Intrinsic Resources Ltd. (IRL), Managers of WAHOME Steel over rent payment. A document chanced upon by The Crusading Guide indicates that Intrinsic Resource Ltd., had made a proposal to pay the full rental payment to WAHOME (a company they leased in 2001) for the year 2006 to prevent the redundancy of over 432 workers.

A letter dated 7th April 2006 authored by the solicitors of IRL, Bentsi Enchil and Lesta and addressed to the Minister for Presidential Affairs and the Chief of Staff, stated that “to demonstrate our client's commitment in promoting and maintaining cordial business relations between itself, WAHOME and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), our client proposes to pay to WAHOME in advance, the full rental payment for 2006. It is our client's hope that if this proposal is accepted, WAHOME would allow it access to the factory so that the parties can then meet and reconcile the outstanding accounts”.

Similar letters were copied to the Ministers for Finance, Trade and Industry, the Presidential Spokesperson and the Minister for Manpower and Employment.

On the 29th of March 2006, WAHOME Steel Ltd placed a notice on the gates of the Company indicating that they had taken possession of the asset previously leased to Intrinsic Resource Limited. They locked up the place and prevented IRL staff from entering the place.

Letters chanced upon by this paper indicate that Intrinsic Resource Ltd had made several attempts at meeting with WAHOME and its SSNIT counterparts on the payments and yet the meeting never came on.

Also WAHOME has given conflicting figures of rents due from IRL hence the need for the parties to sit down and reconcile the accounts for payment.

A letter dated 6th April 2006 signed by Bentsi Enchil and Lesta, which has been received by the office of the President, reiterated the conflicting rents given by WAHOME as follows:

“The KPMG review of rental payments dated March 7th 2006 which WAHOME supports indicates that the outstanding rental due is USD 885,426.

“In an affidavit in support of an two ex-parte motion sworn to by WAHOME Managing Director, Mr. Isaac Yeboah dated April 3, 2006, WAHOME claims that the total outstanding rent due from our client is in the region of USD 3,000,000,00.

“In WAHOME re-entry notice addressed to our client dated March 27th 2006 and which was attached as an exhibit to the above mentioned affidavit, WAHOME as per an attached rent demand notice indicated that the total outstanding rent is USD 2,700,000. “In view of the conflicting figures emanating from WAHOME, our client's position is simply that it is reasonable and critically important that the parties meet to settle and reconcile the outstanding rent account”, the letter said.

Sources at the office of the President told The Crusading GUIDE that, at a meeting held between the Castle on one hand, WAHOME and IRL on another, there was a conclusion that IRL must pay the rent.

“We are surprised at the present development, if IRL is willing to pay they must be given the opportunity to do so. WAHOME must sit with them and trash the matter. Going to close down the place would not do Ghana any good. After all the track record of SSNIT managing such business is well known to all Ghanaians. We suspect something fishy is going on, we shall look into it and see who is saying what”, our sources underscored.

Meanwhile, some workers have already started crying over their fate if the impasse is allowed to persist.

'Crusading GUIDE' checks indicate that IRL which has now been locked out of WAHOME has since December 2001 revitalized WAHOME to the extent of employing over 400 Ghanaians.

Throughout the period of its operations, IRL has paid out in excess of ¢120 billion to the country's utility services.

It also saves the nation $15,000,000 foreign exchange on annual basis due to the production of goods that would if not produced locally would have to be imported.
The Crusading GUIDE reporters have also been informed of a ruling by a Tema High Court which placed an injunction on WAHOME from forcibly taking over the plant.

Yet, as at press time yesterday this reporter spotted security men belonging to WAHOME who were manning the gate and preventing IRL staff from entering the premises.

WAHOME Steel had stated, according to a story in the Graphic, that IRL had not paid its rent since 2004.

However, The Crusading GUIDE gathered some evidence that suggested that money running into close to two million dollars had been paid to WAHOME. Stay tuned.