General News of 2014-01-25

AMA’s property not auctioned — Oko Vanderpuije

The Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, Dr Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, has denied media reports that his official residence and other properties belonging to the assembly have been auctioned to defray a GH¢33 million debt it owed the City and Country Waste Limited (CCWL), a solid waste management company.

“As far as I know, the government intervened in that matter and I did not know where that information came from,” he stated.

It was reported in a section of the media that the official residence of Dr Vanderpujie had been auctioned for GH¢850,000.The reports also alleged that three other properties belonging to the AMA and located at Ridge in Accra were also sold for a total of GH¢2,255,000.

They included a six-bedroom bungalow in which an official of the assembly resided which was sold for GH¢780,000; and two other bungalows which went for GH¢725,000 and GH¢750,000.

Dr. Vanderpuije stressed that there was no truth in those publications.

Incidentally, he still lives in the same residence today.

Though he declined to provide information regarding the status of the situation, Dr Vanderpujie stressed that “ the government has already intervened in the matter and there will not be any auctioning of our properties.”

Precedents of CCWL/AMA contract Vans Mart, the auctioneer had been scheduled to publicly sell off the city authority’s assets, which included its head office, the chief executive’s official residence at Ridge, vehicles and other landed properties on November 7, 2013, but that did not happen.

The issues that led to that point dated back to 1997 and it is steeped in a breach of contract by the assembly.

The CCWL entered into a contract with the AMA in December, 1997, but the contract was allegedly abrogated in 2001.

In the agreement, the AMA was said to have contracted CCWL to provide services for pre-collection, collection and haulage of refuse within Accra.

Under the agreement, the AMA was to provide and lease waste collection and haulage equipment to the CCWL for a period of five years, while landfill equipment were to be leased for seven years.

The CCWL was to pay user fees to the AMA for the equipment for five years from the inception of the date the agreement came into effect.

After the respective periods, the equipment were to become the property of the CCWL.

According to a representative of the company, during the duration of the agreement, CCWL submitted various invoices to the AMA for payment in respect of work done, but the assembly paid only a fraction of them.

The CCWL, therefore, sued the AMA in 2002, claiming GH¢12 million, being the cost of the services it rendered to the assembly in two years but which was in arrears at the time the contract was abrogated.

The Accra High Court granted the reliefs sought by the CCWL and ordered the AMA to pay the amount.

Not satisfied, however, the AMA appealed against the judgement but lost at the Court of Appeal. It then proceeded to the Supreme Court where it lost again.

The Supreme Court, presided over by Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, with Dr Justice S. K. Date-Bah, Mr Justice J. Ansah, Mr Justice R. T. Aninakwah and Mr Justice S. K. Asiamah as members, in a unanimous decision on February 13, 2008, ordered the AMA to pay the amount plus interest, which had amounted to GH¢29 million by August, 2008.

AMA appeals

In May, 2008, the AMA made an application to the Supreme Court to pay the money by instalment but was ordered to pay the initial amount of GH¢12 million by August, the same year and spread the remainder over one year.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, lawyers for the CCWL filed a writ of possession and officials of the company have since been threatening to enforce the court order.

A copy of the court’s order has been posted at the assembly’s head office in Accra, with portions of it mandating the company to seize the assembly’s property for public auction if the AMA failed to take steps to pay the debt.

Conclusion

The government’s intervention, therefore, brings to an end, the long-standing legal battle between the AMA and the CCWL, and also put to rest, speculations about the auction of the the assembly’s properties.