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Frozen fish sellers at the Tema Fishing Harbour have reported the Presiding Officer of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly, Romeo Akahoho, and an assembly member, Kwasi Poku, to the Tema Regional Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service, for allegedly defrauding them to the tune of GH¢300,000.

The women, led by Mrs. Vida Sarpong, are claiming that Romeo Akahoho and the Assembly Member, Kwasi Poku, collected the said money to help them secure a parcel of land to site their refrigerated containers, a promise they failed to honour.

ASP Olivia Turkson, Tema Regional PRO of the police, confirmed in a telephone interview with The Chronicle that the women have reported the aforementioned officials to the CID for allegedly defrauding them and said investigations have already started into the case.

Both the Presiding member, Romeo Akahoho and assembly member, Kwasi Poku have however denied collecting the said money from the women even though they admitted meeting them in their office.

According to the two TMA officials, the women approached the assembly to reclaim part of the Chemu lagoon area to place their containers for commercial activities.

They agreed, but informed the women of the assembly’s unpreparedness to embark on such a capital intensive project, because it needed to be factored in its budget.

The women, the officials said, decided to fund the reclamation cost, and so provided them with a contractor for the job, and since then the day to day activities at the site has rested with the women.

But Speaking to The Chronicle at Tema on Wednesday, Mrs. Sarpong said early this year, they (group of women numbering 20) were ejected from where they had placed their containers, popularly referred to as “reefer”, at the Fishing Harbour and started searching for a new place.

According to her, they found a place behind the fishing harbour lorry park, close to the Chemu lagoon, but were directed to see TMA officials who are the custodians of the land and at the assembly, so they went to see the presiding member and the assembly member in charge of works at the assembly.

Mrs. Sarpong alleged that the two men first made them to pay GH¢5,000 – followed by another GH¢3,700 – bringing the total figure to GH¢8,700 from each of the women.

According to Mrs. Sarpong, the two officials of the assembly enlisted 12 other women to join them, who were also made to honour similar payments.

She said the money collected was to facilitate the construction of a paved ground where the ‘reefer’ containers and sheds would be located.

The two men, she continued, visited the site and attempted to demarcate the land, but realized that the women were more than the space available, so the officials reportedly ordered that those who have paid the money should bring their ‘reefer’ containers to the site, which they obliged.

As the containers were filled with frozen fish, they went to the Electricity Company of Ghana to connect power to the site, and when that was done, TMA induced the power company to disconnect. When they protested the power was restored.

The case, she said, was reported to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and the minister reportedly gave them a note to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) in Accra, for action.

The head of EOCO, in their presence, called the Chief Executive of TMA, Kempes Ofosu Ware to ensure that peace prevailed in the area.

Mrs. Vida Sarpong said unfortunately for them, Kempes was relieved of his post that same day, after which some groups of persons have been harassing them to the extent that the assembly has gone to write ‘REMOVE BEFORE 27TH AUGUST 2013’ notice on their containers.

According to her, every effort to have the presiding member and the assembly member rectify the situation have proved futile. On the 30th of August, 2013, they went to report the case at the Tema Regional Criminal Investigations Department (CID), who collected statements from them.

The women are, therefore, appealing to President John Dramani Mahama to intervene or they will be compelled to embark on a ‘naked protest’ to the assembly.
Source: John bediako/The Chronicle

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