A former member and secretary to the Komenda Sugar Factory’s Management Board, Ransford Chatman Vanni-Amoah, has revealed that the non-operation of the factory is because Trade Minister, Alan Kyeremanten, sold off the factory’s Sugar cane farm to distillers of the local gin popularly called “Akpeteshie”.
Reacting to President Akufo-Addo’s recent claims that the factory has not been operating because the Mahama government had failed to make a farm available for the cultivation of raw materials to feed the factory, Mr. Vanni-Amoah said that claim is untrue.
“In July 2018, Mr. Kyerematen sold the 125-acre sugarcanes to Akpeteshie distillers. Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo says we did not plan on the raw materials. Akufo-Addo should ask his minister why Seftech India Private Ltd is demanding judgment debt for the job executed at the farms,” Vanni-Amoah charged.
Mr. Vanni Amoah said the NPP abandoned the project upon assuming office. “The sugarcane nursery plantation was left to overgrow due to lack of political will to operationalise the factory,” he said.
He explains that before a loan of US$125 million was approved by parliament for the Komenda sugar factory, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, acting on behalf of the government of Ghana, “entered into an agreement with Seftech India Private Ltd to pre-finance the development of a 125-acre nursery plantation, which ought to be transplanted onto the 2,000-acre farms by January 2017.”
According to him, although the capacity of the processing plant is 1,250 tonnes of crushing per day, in the interim, the factory was going to depend on the out-grower canes. The available out-growers within the catchment area could supply between 500 to 700 tonnes of sugarcane per day, which is above the minimum requirement of 150 tonnes per day.
The second tranche of the loan of US$24.54 million was approved by the Parliament of Ghana in November 2016 which was to be accessed in February 2017 to develop 40% of the needed raw materials to be owned by the factory and 60% would be given to the out-growers.
“If the president lacks knowledge on this second tranche, he must consult Mr. Kyerematen. It is disingenuous on the part of the President to ask that if the money was there, why did John Mahama refuse to utilise it?” Mr. Vanni Amoah wrote.
His write-up was in reaction to claims by President Akufo-Addo that the Mahama government had not properly planned the Komenda sugar factory.
“Immediately after the factory was built, it shut down…This was in the NDC time – May 2016,” Akufo Addo said.
“Soon after”, he noted, “a transaction advisor who was appointed by the then-NDC government – I think it was PricewaterhouseCoopers – came to try and assist the government to sell 70 per cent of the share in the factory. And all this is happening in the Mahama era; it’s not my time,” the President stated.
“Up and down, up and down, no progress [was made]. Why? Because the fundamental issue which has dogged the Komenda Sugar Factory is the absence of a plan for the supply of raw material. It makes it a very very difficult project”, Akufo-Addo claimed.
But Mr. Vanni-Amoah dismissed the claims saying, “If the president is willing to operationalize the factory, he and his minister would not be giving flimsy excuses anytime they are asked about the Komenda Sugar factory”.