Some chiefs and people living around the Songor Lagoon in Ada have demanded that government put a stop to a controversial monopoly that it has granted Electrochem Ghana Limited, a company owned by a bankroller of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
At a press conference that was addressed by their lawyers, the Concerned Members Living around The Songor Lagoon, demanded that rather, government return to a Master Plan that was crafted to guide the development of the Lagoon by the erstwhile PNDC government in the 80s.
“We have the instructions of our clients to demand…a review of the terms of the Electrochem project and the implementation of a development approach in the vision of the Master Plan which legally accommodates the economic interests, including the right to salt production of local people,” parts of their press statement read.
Their Lawyers, Opoku and Associates insisted that a return to the PNDC Master Plan is what will bring an end to the unending confrontations between the security agencies and the people of the area.
The Master Plan in question was crafted the PNDC government of Jerry Rawlings and given legal backing in the form of PNDC Law 287 (1992) under which the Songor SAL Lagoon was vested in the PNDC Government in trust for the implementation of the Master Plan.
Processes leading to the formulation of the Master Plan and the law had been sparked by a Police shooting of a resident of Ada, Maggie Kuwornu, in May 1985 over the same salt resource.
“The Master Plan proposed an inclusive Songor development model which supported the cp-existence of local small scale and large scale salt producers as well as the use of the Lagoon area for other economic activities and optimized local development benefits. The Master Plan also indicated the institutional arrangements and infrastructural investments needed to make this feasible,” the press statement said.
However, thirty years after the Master Plan and its backing law were crafted, the plan has not been implemented. Then late last year, the Akufo-Addo government ceded the lagoon to Electrochem as a monopoly.
Electrochem is owned by Dr. Daniel McKorley, owner of the notorious McDan Group whose ties with the ruling New Patriotic Party is well-known.
It would be recalled that Dr. McKorley, who is a known bankroller of the ruling party, was in the news sometime during the Mahama government over his smuggling of some South African retired Police officers into the country to train goon squads of the NPP in Ghana.
This is also the same Dr. McKorley who was given a contract by COCOBOD to make some supplies to the Board and was granted some Ghc100million mobilization by ADB through the instrumentality of Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, at a time that ADB’s Board was not in place.
Those contracts are believed to be rewards for McDan’s loyalty and contribution to the NPP’s capture of power from opposition and the gifting of the Ada Songor Lagoon to his company to monopolize the salt resource is also seen as part of the share of the spoils of power by the Akufo-Addo government.
According to an elder of the area, Theophilus Amorsey Akoto, the hostile takeover of the Songor came to the notice of the people all of a sudden. “It happened late last year, nobody told us anything, before we realized, there was news that McDan has been granted a monopoly over the Songor.”
He laments that the development also happened with the connivance of some chiefs of the area. “We want the government to return to the Master Plan, that is all we are asking; in the Master Plan, there is nothing like a monopoly,” he said.
The community has been resisting the best they can but McDan reportedly used the apparatus of State against the people, who have been reportedly brutalized a number of times by the Police and the Military. On 15th February 2021 Police and soldiers raided villages along the Songor and arrested 9 persons, 5 of whom sustained injuries from the sheer force, according to their lawyers
Again, on 15th May 2021, the Police arrested and handcuffed one Benjamin Anim to his hospital bed at Dzodze where he was receiving treatment for wounds he sustained from alleged Police brutality.
At the press conference on Thursday, members of the community clad in red had thronged the Press Center in Accra and vowed to continue protesting until the controversial monopoly granted McDan is reversed.