Stalling of $1.55b project locks 5000 tourism jobs

The late start of the $1.55 billion Gold Coast City Accra beach front development project, announced a year ago by the Strategic Initiatives Limited and its Partners has left more than 5000 tourism and affiliated jobs hanging in the balance.

As a result of the delay in the commence­ment of the project, which is expected to take five years to complete, the investors are also said to be literally throwing away more than $10,000 in franchise fees paid monthly to the World Trade Centre Association, from whom they had acquired a licence to build and oper­ate a World Trade Centre in Ghana as part of the Gold Coast City project.

Information available to The Mirror indi­cates that as early as February this year, the
Government through the Cabinet had directed the Ministries of Tourism, Lands and Forestry; Water Resources, Works and Housing to facil­itate the execution of the project; which was to start in March. The project was to be situated on the land between the Independence Square area and the Hearts Park (close to the Arts Centre)

The ministries were to meet with the investors and other stakeholders and clear all obstacles that might hinder the smooth execution of the project, and then pre­sent a joint ‘memo’ to Cabinet, advising it on all issues concerning the intended venture.

However, almost a year after the directive, The Mirror has learnt that the “all important Memo”  is yet to reach the Cabinet for the gov­ernment to give its full blessing for the Gold Coast City project to take off.

A source close to the investors told The Mirror that the issue of land acquisition, which might have been a hindrance to the smooth start of the project, had been successfully sorted out, “because both the Cabinet and the Ga chiefs were interested in the project”.

What was left was for the three ministries to get together and draw a plan for the reloca­tion of all government administrative centres as well as other offices along the project site to pave way for work to begin.

Reacting to that assertion, an official of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry, who pleaded anonymity, told The Mirror “We have done all that we are required to do in respect of the land needed for the Gold Coast City project. We are just waiting for inputs from the ministries of Tourism and Water Resources, Works and Housing to advise Cab­inet on the way forward.”

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, an aide to the Minister, Selorm Amevor, said the ministry, as the coordinating body for the works, was ready for the project to take off immediately, but the issue of the relocation of the offices along the project site had proved to be a difficult one. He, however, gave the assurance that efforts were being made to clear that hurdle.

According to the Director in charge of Housing at the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Alhaji Yahaya Hamed Yakubu, the issue of the relocation of govern­ment offices was a matter of policy that had to be dealt with at the ministerial level, and hint­ed that the Minister, Mr Alban Bagbin, was holding discussions with the relevant bodies on the matter. Efforts to get Mr Bagbin for his comments were not successful.

Meanwhile, the source at the company leading the Gold Coast City project has questioned the delay in the reloca­tion exercise, stressing that the private investors had expressed their readiness to help the government to access $55 million to move the government offices. “Besides, some areas along the project site are not occupied, which means that work can start there; so why the delay in advising Cabinet to give us the go-ahead to start the project?” the source queried.

“If the ministers involved in the project are busy, they should delegate functions that concern the project to other persons because the commencement date for the task has been postponed too many times; from September, 2009 to March, 2010 and now we are looking at December, 2010,” the source added, sound­ing quite frustrated.

The source also reiterated that the tradi­­tional rulers whose areas would be affected by the project were very committed; a point that was corroborated by the Spokesperson for the Nai We, Henry Nii Yartey Yartey, who told The Mirror on telephone that the chiefs on August 6, 2010 presented a letter to the Presi­dent, Prof. J . E. A. Mills stating their blessing for the project, “and we are waiting for the President’s reply to that letter”.

The Gold Coast City development effort is being promoted by the Strategic Initiatives Limited and its partners; Shuguang Propri­etary Group Company Limited and the Guo­qiang Construction Group Company Limited, under the leadership of Togbe Afede XIV, the paramount chief of the Asogli Traditional Area and boss at the Strategic African Securi­ties (SAS).

The 160-acre project will consist of resi­dential villas and apartments, a shopping mall, a school complex, a recreational centre, a hotel and an office complex, including a World Trade Centre.

The residential apartments, estimated to house about 600 families, are made up of 124­unit villas, 216 three-unit flats and a 10-unit apartment block of 260 flats.

The project will also see the construction of a six-floor 500-room five-star hotel, three-floor shopping mall with ice hock­ey and ice skating facilities, a 21-floor World Trade Centre (WTC), a four-floor modern school complex, a 15-floor office complex for the Ministry of Tourism and a mini golf course.

There will also be offices for the relo­cated ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), mini golf course and many other facilities.

According to the source the overall objec­tive of the project is to develop and sustain the entire stretch of the marine drive. Along the coast, in support of the sea front development in Accra, as well as improve on sanitation in the area.

The project is also expected to create social, physical and commercial infrastructure that would attract investment and tourists into the country.

Source: The Mirror

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