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Ga Assembly Frustrates Investor

A plan by a local investor to establish a hospital at Mile Seven, Achimota to serve...

A plan by a local investor to establish a hospital at Mile Seven, Achimota to serve the community is being frustrated by the Ga District Assembly.

Dr. James Prempeh, proprietor of St. Raphael Clinic in Accra acquired a piece of land at Achimota in 1992 from the State Housing Corporation to construct a hospital to complement the efforts of the state in providing health delivery.

In 1994 Dr. Prempeh after conducting a search at Lands Commission to ascertain the true ownership of the property submitted a building plan to the Ga District Assembly for a building permit to construct a hospital and accommodation for doctors and nurses. This was to ensure that doctors and nurses stayed close to the hospital to attend to emergencies.

On July 3, 1996 the Assembly granted him permit, number GDA/ACH/516/96 to undertake the project.

With that authorisation he commenced work. But as soon as he started, some neighbours threatened the workers at the site that the project, initially estimated at ?120 million would never see light.

As if to confirm the threat, in 1999, while he was on a business trip abroad, the Ga District Assembly constructed drains through part of the land with the aim of developing a road to connect with the main road leading to Tabora.

In the process a defence wall he constructed round the site was pulled down. "I have constructed the wall four times and four times they have pulled it down," Dr. Prempeh lamented.

He said he sought a court injunction to restrain the Assembly from encroaching on the hospital's land. On July 3 and 23 when the case was called, the counsel for State Housing Corporation indicated that the corporation had no interest in contesting the case. But the Assembly's plan to frustrate the project succeeded in holding the project up for ten years.

Because of lack of a wall and security, the hospital beds and other equipment have been stolen.

Yesterday, the new Assembly at its sitting failed to resolve the matter. After deliberating on the case, the Assembly members absolved themselves of blame and rather appealed to him to allow the road to be constructed in the interest of the community. "For now what the Assembly wants to do is to humbly appeal to you to allow us to construct the road," the District Chief Executive said.

In reply, Dr. Prempeh explained that the construction of the road would virtually obstruct the project, especially the staff accommodation. He holds the Assembly solely responsible for frustrating the project. "Why would the same Assembly which approved the plan turn round and say they want to construct a road through my hospital," Dr. Prempeh asked.

He explained that he decided to establish the hospital to serve the community because the only hospital near the area is the 37 Military Hospital, which is several kilometres away.

He said at this time that government is facing health delivery difficulties it is not in the national interest for anyone to try to frustrate local investors who want to invest in the health sector. "If I were a foreign investor probably I would not be treated that way. I have drugs in the house for myself and my family and I can fly abroad for treatment, but what of the poor in the community?"

A visit to the site of the hospital revealed that the road that is being constructed through the hospital is unnecessary because there is already a well-tarred road that leads to Tabora.

Certainly for the government to make headway in attracting both local and foreign investors, state authorities must encourage local investors first. In fact, some economists have even suggested that the starting point of a country's investment drive should be to create an enabling environment for local investors.

Dr. Prempeh's frustration is a test case for the success or failure of realising the dreams of the Golden Age of Business as declared by President Kufuor