Atuabo Free Port project in limbo

Last week, President John Mahama and the Petroleum Minister, Mr Armah Kofi Buah stated publicly that the delay in the start of the Atuabo Freeport project is coming from some Members of Parliament.


These claims are false and misleading. We, the said Members of Parliament state
for the records that there is currently no court injunction on the Atuabo
Freeport project.

Indeed, there is no court action against the project. These
statements are untrue. We challenge government to tell the public the suit numbers of
the suit(s) they are attributing the delay to.

It is obvious that the cause of the delay is the inability of government and Lonrho Ports
to find the money to finance the project.

We have only written a letter to the Attorney General drawing government?s attention
to two important issues relating, NOT to the Atuabo Freeport project, but to the
Takoradi Port and the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority (GPHA). The issues are as

1. Parliament has approved a ?197 million loan facility for Takoradi Port to expand
and provide oil and gas services to the emerging petroleum business in the Western
Region. The Takoradi Port is again in the process of contracting another US$400
million for the purpose of further expanding its facilities to provide oil and gas

In spite of these, government and Lonrho have signed an agreement to impose a
restriction on the expansion of oil and gas facilities at the Takoradi Port until Lonrho
has recovered all of its investment in the Atuabo Freeport and made enough profit.
Please refer to Clause 7 of the Atuabo Freport agreement.

If this restriction is allowed to remain, Takoradi Port cannot repay its loans, the Port
and related businesses in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis will collapse, and the
unemployment that will attend this collapse will be unbearable for the nation.

Republic of Ghana

Member of Parliament

Efia Constituency
Parliament House, Accra, Ghana. +233 244 272 612
It also needs to be noted that, in anticipation of expanded oil and gas business at
the Takoradi Port, both local and foreign businessmen and investors have invested
in the residential, commercial and real estate sectors in Sekondi-Takoradi and the
surrounding townships. Hotels, restaurants, financial institutions, etc have all
invested substantially in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis.

So the exclusion of Takoradi Port from the oil and gas business poses serious risk to these investors. It
would not augur well for Ghana’s investment policy credibility.
We support government?s effort at giving Western Region two ports. We don’t
support killing one port to establish another.

2. The second concern we have is the suggestion by Lonrho that, they cannot bring
themselves under the regulation of the GPHA, Ghana?s sole regulator of ports.
To please Lonrho, government and Lonrho have put a clause in the Atuabo Freeport
agreement that Lonrho would deal with GPHA at arm?s length if at all Lonrho decides
to deal with the GPHA. Please refer to Clause 13.2 of the Atuabo Freeport

This disregard for Ghana?s institutions is wrong and unacceptable.
We take the view that while we seek to resolve these matters regarding the restrictions
on Takoradi Port and the regulatory functions of Ghana?s sole regulator of ports (the
GPHA), nothing stops Lonrho Ports Ltd from proceeding with the building of the Atuabo
Freeport. Once again, we are urging Lonrho to proceed with the project.
If they are having difficulty raising money to start the project, government should be
truthful about the causes of the delay.

Hon Joseph Cudjoe
(MP, Efia Constituency, Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis)

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