From Richard Owusu-Akyaw, Kumasi .
Even before the third phase of the Central Market Project commences, the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) has awarded a section of the land to a contractor to build shops, raising questions about the posture of the assembly to the $90 million facility.
The Government of Ghana is set to pay questionable compensation to a property developer(s) in the coming years, over the KMA’s decision to award a section of Phase Two of the Central Market to a private developer(s).
The emerging scenario could be equated to what recently happened at Kejetia, where Manhyia Palace ordered the pulling down of COSTA Pharmacy and other structures, in order to beautify the Kejetia project.
The said market is a few metres away from the Central Market and is demarcated by the railway line.
Over five thousand market women and men are going to lose their source of livelihoods over the said project, which the KMA has awarded to contractors.
The ramification is that the government will have to fork out huge sums of money to compensate the contractor, since the project may mar the beauty of the Central Market Project upon its completion in future.
Investigations conducted by The Chronicle have established that the KMA is set to barricade the said stretch of land, where the poor market women and men have been breaking their backs to eke out a living.
Intelligence available to this paper has established that the contractors are to build shops from ‘Dr. Mensah’ to Alabar.
Speaking to the Public Relations Officer of the KMA, Godwin Okumah Nyame, he revealed that the KMA has awarded the place to only one contractor, called Nap Apprising Company.
Asked whether the place is part of the Kejetia project or not, he responded in the negative. Okumah Nyame, who could neither tell exactly when the assembly awarded the ‘Dr. Mensah’ market to a contractor, nor the size of the land given out by the assembly, revealed the KMA gave the contract to only one organisation and not two.
He denied that the assembly intended sacking the women from the place. Mr. Nyame told The Chronicle that the KMA will visit the place and look at the reallocation process.
Responding to a question about the probability of the government paying compensation to the developer in future, the KMA PRO explained that the redevelopment will not affect the mega-project in anyway.
Mr. Okumah Nyame was emphatic that the land is quite big and that the project will not cover the entire area, adding that the contractor is going to execute the project in phases.
Speaking to a source at Contract Engineering, the Brazilian firm building the $298 million Kejetia market, he revealed that ‘Dr. Mensah’ was part of Central Market project.
He was, therefore, worried over the current development, saying if the project goes ahead in the same area, the sewerage system of the Kejetia project could be affected.
Abraham Atta Boadi, Presiding Member of the KMA, on his part, told The Chronicle that his outfit had awarded the ‘Dr. Mensah’ market project to a contractor called Nap Apprising Company.
In a direct contradictory statement with the KMA PRO, Opooman revealed that the land does not belong to the KMA.
According to him, the land belongs to the state, but the chiefs have the right to reclaim it, and he is aware Auntie Bea, a businesswoman, has sent a proposal to the KMA, seeking space to develop a section of the land into shops.
Auntie Bea confirmed the claim when contacted on phone by this reporter. She, however, denied giving each assembly member money to facilitate the acquisition of the place.
On a working visit to ‘Dr. Mensah’ market, which the KMA has given out for redevelopment, The Chronicle observed that brisk business was going on there.
Among some of the items which were on sale were cassava, plantains, tomatoes, onion, yam and meat.
The market women pleaded with Manhyia Palace and the government to stop the intended development of the place, because it will deprive them of their livelihoods. They accused the KMA of using the police and macho men to harass them.
In a telephone interaction with Cudjoe Nathaniel, the contractor, who is set to re-develop part of the embattled land, disclosed to this paper that the ‘Dr. Mensah’ land was awarded to him by the KMA on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.