Friday, 20 June 2014

Restraining Order On Ghana Gas Lifted

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The restraining order imposed on the Ghana National Gas Company (Ghana Gas) preventing it from continuing work on the Atuabo gas infrastructure project has been lifted, paving way for the company to continue work.

The injunction was lifted by the Sekondi High Court presided by Mr Justice Kofi Akrowia yesterday after the Ghana Gas company filed an application for a variation of the court’s earlier ruling issued last week Monday, June 9, 2014. Per the new ruling yesterday, the companies which were initially restrained from continuing work on the Atuabo land have been given the green light to go ahead with construction activities while the case takes its normal course in court. The companies include SINOPEC, the Chinese construction firm working on the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant, Quantum Terminals Limited (QTL) and the Ghana Oil Limited (GOIL). One individual, Ernest Nunoo, owner of Ernest Seafront Hotel, was also sued in the case.

The plaintiff and his lawyers were not present in court despite having been served notice of the appeal. The Plaintiff did not also file an application to oppose the application by Ghana Gas.

The plaintiff in the case, Awulae Amihere Kpanyinle III, Omanhene of the Eastern Nzema Traditonal Area, last week secured the injunction from the same court restraining Ghana Gas, SINOPEC, GOIL and real estate developer, Ernest Nunoo, from carrying out any activity on Atuabo lands for a period of 14 days until they have regularised their stay on the land.

But at its hearing yesterday, counsel for Ghana Gas, Mr. Enoch Larbi-Aboagye, said prior to the commencement of the construction of the gas processing plant, the company together with officials of the Ministry of Energy approached the Plaintiff and indicated the intention of the Government of Ghana, through the Company to site the gas processing plant at Atuabo.

It said it told the Omanhene and other chiefs in the area that due to the urgency of the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development Project and the fact that the acquisition process could delay the commencement of construction activities, the company wanted to commence activities while the acquisition processes were also pursued.

The company said the Plaintiff agreed to the proposal and he was subsequently introduced to SINOPEC, the Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Commissioning Contractor for the gas infrastructure project.

The company therefore prayed for the order to be lifted, saying its pendency will lead to great hardship on the company, as the human and material resources mobilised to the project site at great cost will remain idle and unutilized. It said it will cost the company US$1,217,505 in labour costs for each day and US$17,045,070 for 14days that the expatriate workers will remain idle as a result of the restraining order and that the restraining order will result in a delay of the supply of gas to the VRA for the generation of thermal power. The Communications Manager for Ghana Gas, Mr. Alfred Ogbamey, told the Daily Post after the ruling yesterday that “we are happy it is over. The restraining order ought not to have been issued in the first place. The allegations used in securing it had no basis in fact. The press conferences and public pressure on us were simply aimed at extracting compensation from the state before commissioning of the project in the coming weeks. Let us all now allow the court to determine the merits of the substantive case.” He also took the opportunity to deny accusations by the Omanhene of the Eastern Nzema Traditonal Area that he was unaware of how the company entered the land on which it is building the gas infrastructure plant. “There is enough video and audio evidence to show that the same Omanhene gave us his blessings to enter the land and begin the project. He has on occasions visited the site to inspect the project.”

“Awulae Amihere Kpanyinle III also visited the land as part of a delegation of members of the Standing Committee of the Western Region House of Chiefs led by the President of the Western Regional House of Chiefs, Awulae Attibrukusu, during which they interacted with officials of Ghana Gas and SINOPEC. How then can he claim not to know us?”

The spokesperson for Ghana Gas said despite the initial setback, Ghana Gas would continue to see the Omanhene, chiefs, elders and people of Nzema as partners in developing the nation’s gas infrastructure.

“We are partners in development and would want to ensure a continuation of our social license in the communities. We’ll be coordinating with the Omanhene, chiefs, elders and people of Nzema to fashion out a solution to the numerous challenges facing the area”, he told this paper.


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