When Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) presented their handing over notes to the transition team in December 2016, they failed to mention anything about Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), a US$5million public-private partnership (PPP) project in Takoradi.
EDC is a PPP project, between Tullow Oil and government (through GNPC), fitted with expensive state of the art equipment to train small scale enterprises to get contracts in the oil industry.
Tullow Oil operated it for four years and suspended operations. Subsequently, the Energy Ministry under the previous government asked GNPC to take over the centre just before change of government happened. But both the Energy Ministry and GNPC failed to mention it in their handing over notes even though the state already had a stake in it.
Meanwhile, on Friday, January 27, 2017, two workers of GNPC, named as Lawrence Kwao Sam and Paul Yeboah went to the EDC building allegedly to move out some valuable equipment but personnel from the BNI and Police CID prevented them.
One of the representatives of the Transition Team in the Western Region, Kwesi Biney also told Adom News that prior to last Friday’s intervention by the BNI, “we got wind of some Energy Ministry staff planning to move out equipment from EDC on Boxing Day, December 26, 2016 during the transition period, but they abandoned that mission because we informed the then Minister-Designate Boakye Agyarko”.
According to Biney, he got to know from the Minister and for the then Chairman of the Transition Team, Yaw Osafo Marfo that they had no clue of the existence of EDC because it was not mentioned in the handing over notes.
Meanwhile, the two GNPC staff who were stopped from moving the equipment, were said to have claimed that they were under instructions to move the equipment to avoid accumulation of rent, since the building that house EDC belongs to one John Kwasi Donkor.
This claim, the GNPC confirmed in a written response to Adom News saying that a joint team from GNPC and Tullow went there to move the equipment to a GNPC-owned facility because the rent agreement was due to expire this month.
But the landlord told Adom News that is a “mischievous lie” because he had written several emails to GNPC and to Tullow informing them that he was willing to let the equipment be in the building for free until the current government settles down and decides what to do with the centre.
Indeed, Adom News has cited an email in which John Donkor told the new Petroleum and Energy Minister that he was willing to house the equipment for free for the next few months as his contribution to jobs EDC is creating for the people of Takoradi.
“I am also aware that they were moving the equipment including cars to the warehouse of a private company within the oil industry and not to any GNPC-owned building,” he said.
John Donkor said he was shocked at the refusal by GNPC and its collaborators at the Ministry to list EDC in the handing over notes and the subsequent attempt by some individuals to shut down the centre and move out equipment for their personal benefit, under the guise of avoiding rent accumulation.
He said he suspects that the move by GNPC and their collaborators at the Ministry is yet one more attempt by some non-patriots to create, loot and share at the expense of the people of Takoradi.
GNPC and Tullow response
When Adom News contacted GNPC, they explained that the reason EDC was not captured in the handing over notes was because “GNPC has been asked by the Ministry of Petroleum to take over the operations of the EDC (but) there are ongoing discussions with individuals at the Ministry who are in charge of the EDC, and the transfer is not yet complete. This is why it was not captured in the handing over notes.”
On the issue of why they sent people to EDC to move out equipment, GNPC said “a joint team from the partners GNPC and Tullow, visited the office on Friday to relocate EDC assets to a GNPC-owned facility. They were prevented from doing so – not because there was any issue – but because according to the Western Region office of the BNI, due to recent incidences of public property being taken over by some youth, the Minister-Designate (at the time) and the three-member representatives from the Western Region serving on the Transition Team, had to be informed before any assets were moved.”
Again, as to why they claim rent was an issue when the landlord had written officially all the parties and offered to house the centre for free for a few months, GNPC said “Following the directive from the Ministry of Petroleum to GNPC to take over EDC operations, the EDC approached GNPC to finance its rent. GNPC thought it was more efficient, to move the EDC to a GNPC-owned property in Sekondi, to minimize cost.”