General News Thu, 24 Mar 2005

Govt Negotiating With ?Dead? Company?

- United Rail about to be struck off
- One of It's Shareholders is already dissolved

Details emerging from the United Kingdom reveal that a 50% shareholder of United Rail (International) limited ? the company that won the bid to take over the rehabilitation and management of the Ghana Railway Company (GRC) - has ceased to exist.

The other shareholder of United Rail is a small company, which recorded "tangible assets" of about ?36,000 and investments of ?2000 as at December 2003.

At a press conference organized by the minister of Harbour and Railways, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, to calm fears in the public that the government was dealing with a fraudulent company, he said

?United Rail Company Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of United Rail International registered in the United Kingdom as a company with the number 05066976?

GhanaWeb International investigations reveal that United Rail (International) limited was incorporated on March 8 2004, 23 days before bids closed. The company operates without any director or secretary and it uses a ?care-of? contact address

Currently, there is a proposal for the company to be struck off by the Companies House of U.K.

This leads to the question ?Was the newly formed company registered specifically for the operations of railways in Ghana and why is there a proposal to ?strike off? this company??

The minister also mentioned

?the shareholding structure of the company was Trackbed Limited (UK), 50 per cent and Holdtrade Limited of UK, 50 per cent and added that the latter was already involved in the rehabilitation of portions of the Western rail line in the country.

GhanaWeb International?s investigation reveals that

.. the British Registry of companies has a record of only one registered company in the UK with the name ?Trackbed Limited?. The full name of the company is TRACKBED CONSOLIDATION LIMITED. It was dissolved on 19 October 2004. The director of Trackbed until December 2001 was John Preston ? a railway clerk.

According to the minister, Trackbed is a holding company involved in the financing of large international projects, with emphasis on Africa. He said Trackbed had a large investment in mining, timber and agricultural interests in Africa and was, therefore, in a position to furnish United Rail with both the practical aspects and the expertise in running large operations.

GhanaWeb International?s investigation reveals that the last annual and accounts report for trackbed consolidated limited was in 2001. It showed a company with assets worth under ?3000.

This leads to the question: why was it dissolved and is the minister aware of this?

The second shareholder of United Rail, HOLDTRADE (UK) LIMITED - not to be confused with the German company Holdtrade GmbH nor the Ghanaian company Holdtrade (UK) Ltd - was incorporated in 1996.

According to Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi

?Holdtrade and associates have been an active partner with many railways in Africa for over 20 years and had good knowledge of the current operations of the Ghana Railway Company (GRC) in terms of its strengths, weaknesses and potential.?

GhanaWeb International?s investigation reveals that

This leads to the question: Has Holdtrade Limited really been an active partner with many railways in Africa for over 20 years?

It must be recalled that, the government last week assembled a team, led by the minister and other legal luminaries, to engage the team from United Rail in negotiations. But after a week, in which doubts were raised about the company in the media, United Rail?s team requested an adjournment to enable it to consult with its partners in the UK to thrash out some demands made by the government side.

The negotiations with United rail was led on the government side by the Minister of Harbours and Railways, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi. Other members on the government side were


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