Ghana: Fisheries Research Vessel Thrown Away?

Tema — Madam Patience Aku Ocansey, managing director of Patpau Fisheries Limited a Tema-based fishing company has called on President John Agyekum Kufour to, as a matter of urgency, set up an enquiry into the circumstances that led to the throwing away into the sea of a state-owned fisheries research vessel "F.R.V. KAKADIAMAA" in December 2001.

At the time 'KAKADIAMAA" was allegedly thrown into the sea, Patpau Company Limited claimed it had bided to purchase the aged vessel for ¢300 million.

Madam Ocansey lamented that what "pained" her most was the fact that at the time it was allegedly thrown away, "KAKADIAMAA" had just undergone extensive repair work at the Tema Dry-dock where the whole under part of the vessel up to the "water mark" was replaced with new and expensive steel plates imported at a great cost to the nation.

After the repairs at the dry-dock, the vessel was allegedly brought back to its idle docking position in the fishing harbour where it remained afloat for quite a long time.

Madam Ocansey went on: "Enquiries I made revealed that "KAKADIAMAA" was not going on its normal research assignments due to a faulty part which she later learnt from an expert could cost up to five million cedis.

"I saw an invitation to tender advertisement on Page 24 of the Daily Graphic of Thursday November 15, 2001 by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture inviting interested bidders to send tenders marked "sale of vessel" for the purchase of the vessel 'KAKADIAMAA' ".

"My company became interested and in a letter dated November 16 2001, addressed to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as demanded by the advertisement, first offered to purchase the vessel for ¢250 million on "As is where is" basis.

"This amount of ¢25O million was later increased to ¢300 million in our second letter dated November 23, 2001 to the Ministry for Food and Agriculture, making my company the highest bidder according to our investigative machinery.

"Unfortunately, whilst waiting for the reply to our tender letter, I came to the fishing harbour one Sunday in December 2001 to learn that "KAKADIAMAA" had been towed away by the port authorities allegedly on the orders of one Mrs. Emelia Annan, then an acting director of fisheries of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and dumped at a spot at the eastern coast of the fishing harbour".

"What wisdom is in refusing to accept ¢300 million for an old age vessel compared to it being thrown away for it to be cannibalised by the ever angry sea and scrap dealers?" the managing director asked.

According to Madam Ocansey, she suspected something "fishy" had taken place within the Fisheries Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and only a probe could make the Honourable Minister for Agriculture Mr. Courage Quashigah, the then sector minister, Mr. Ismael Ashittey and the then acting director of fisheries, Ms. Emelia Annan come out with the truth as regards the alleged throwing away of "KAKADIAMAA" despite her offer to give the state ¢300 million to enable her company make the vessel sea-worthy to catch more fish to feed the nation.

Meanwhile, when this reporter contacted Miss Emelia Annan, the Director of Fisheries on Wednesday afternoon for her version on the issue, she denied that KAKADIAMAA was thrown away on her orders.

She however admitted that her outfit actually advertised for the sale of KAKADIAMA, adding that it was at the middle of the tender notice and at a time when interested parties were sending in their bids that she was informed that the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA) had, during the night, towed away the vessel and dumped it into the sea at the eastern coast of the fishing harbour.

She said the port authorities had not informed anybody at the ministry before throwing away KAKADIAMAA.

She had also neither sent any queries to the port authorities nor had anybody from her ministry gone to see where the vessel was deposited.

"When a ship is thrown away, anything can happen to it and that's the end of it and nothing else," Miss Annan said.

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