Takoradi Port Expansion Case: Court To Rule On Friday

The Secondi High Court will on Friday, the 24th of October 2014, give its ruling in the case in which five members of Ghana's Parliament are praying the court to remove a restriction government has imposed on further expansion of oil and gas facilities at the Takoradi Port. The five are Hon Kwaku Kwarteng (Obuasi West MP), Hon Kwabena Okyere Darko (Takoradi MP), Hon Joseph Cudjoe (Effia MP), Hon Mavis Hawa Koomson ( Ewutu Senya MP) and Hon Kofi Brako (Tema Central MP). On 17th July 2014, Parliament approved an agreement made between Ghana Government and a British company, Lonrho Ports, for the development of an oil and gas freeport in the Western Region. Clause 7 of the said agreement bars Takoradi Port from further expanding its facilities for oil and gas until Lonrho has built its freeport, recovered all its cost, and made enough profit. The agreement actually bars all persons or companies from building any oil and gas port facilities in the entire Western Region until Lonrho has recovered its investment and made its profit. But the five Members of Parliament insist that this restriction imposed on a national port like the Takoradi Port is unlawful. They argue in their affidavit that the restriction offends section 5 of the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority Act and are praying the court to remove the restriction. The case which has generated so much interest in the Western Region and beyond will bring to court very high profile interested parties. The Attorney General who is Respondent in the case and who was in court at the last hearing in expected in court on Friday. The Minister for Energy & Petroleum and the MP for Elembelle, Hon Armah-Kofi Buah in whose constituency the Atuabo Freeport is to be located was in court at the last hearing and is expected to be in court to listen to the ruling. The Chiefs of Takoradi Traditional Area who have expressed their support for the MPs' application will also be in court. Interestingly, the Chiefs of Eastern Nzema Traditional Area, led by Awulae Amihere Kpanyile, who have been very critical of the five MPs and at one point went to court to prevail on the court to discontinue the case are also expected to attend on Friday. Lonrho Ports have engaged the high profile Accra law firm, Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa and Ankomah as their lawyers for the case; and as in previous hearings, it is expected that the firm's top lawyers will be in court to hear the ruling. All five Members of Parliament have indicated their intention to be in court in their full force and have already booked their flights to the harbour city. The legal team for the Members of Parliament are Mr Alexander Abban of Accra, Mr Kojo Kum and Mr Victor Owusu, both of Takoradi. In a statement, the leader of the team, the young and renowned Alexander Abban, probably the best commercial lawyer in the country at the moment, said he is hopeful that Takoradi Port would be relieved of the restriction on Friday. He is the same lawyer who defeated government in the illegal fuel price case in 2011. Kwaku Kwarteng (MP, Obuasi West Constituency)