AMA houses to go to defray judgement debt

Barring any intervention by the government, seven properties belonging to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) will be put up for auction soon.

The properties include offices of the AMA at No.1 Asafoatse Nettey Road and the official residence of its chief executive.

Others are No. 6, 7th Avenue, Ridge, occupied by the AMA’s Director of Budget, Mrs Lydia Sackey, and the immediate past Deputy
Director of Human Resource, Mrs Moira Ewa.

The rest are Bungalow No. 4, 7th Avenue Close, occupied by Mr Valentine Amedo, the Director of Works; No. 5, 7th Avenue Close, Metro Coordinating Director, Mr Sam Ayeh-Dartey; No. 3, 7th Avenue Close (Main Block), Director of Finance, Mr Samuel Aryee; No. 2, 8th Avenue (Main block), Director of Waste Management, Mr Augustine N. Blay.

The intended sale of the properties follows notices of auction placed on the said properties by an Accra High Court following a 2008 Supreme Court ruling in favour of City and Country Waste Limited (CCWL), a waste management company whose contract was allegedly terminated by the Kufuor administration.

The company is demanding $6,575,928.52 in judgement debt owed it by the AMA.

The notice on the properties issued by the Sheriff’s Office, Fast Track/Automated Court and dated March 3, 2012, read, “Notice is hereby that in pursuance of a decree of the said court date the 13th day of February, 2008…, in the above suit (CCWL vs Accra Metropolitan Assembly), the property of the said defendant, having been seized, in the execution under writ fi.fa, dated 21st day of February, 2012, will be sold by public auction on a date to be issued at 11 a.m. unless the said decree shall be sooner satisfied, to writ.“

Faced with the possibility of its entire operations being thrown out on the streets of Accra, the AMA last Saturday conveyed an emergency meeting, during which it passed a resolution appealing to the government, through the Attorney-General’s Department, to “pay the $6,575,928.52 judgement debt that the AMA owes City and Country Waste Limited on its behalf to enable the assembly to have respite to concentrate on its better Ghana development activities”.

The four-point resolution signed by the Presiding Member of the assembly, Mr Desmond Nii Addo Binney, and Mr Sam Ayeh-Datey, the assembly’s Secretary, stated that it accepted the Supreme Court ruling of February 13, 2008 and had resolved that “the assembly’s landed properties that have been earmarked for sale at reserve prices to defray the judgement debt be possibly avoided before the stipulated auction date”.

“The AMA accepts that the Republic of Ghana Supreme Court’s 13th February, 2008 ruling which said the AMA should pay the amount owed the CCWL, in addition to interests to be calculated on the interest rate and exchange rate at the time the contract was abrogated until the full amount owed CCWL of $6,575,928.52,” it said.

It further stated that “the AMA, at its current financial standing, did not have the financial capacity and capability to pay the debt it owes the CCWL as per the Supreme Court ruling”.

When the Daily Graphic visited the various properties, almost all of them, with the exception of the head office and the mayor’s residence where the funeral of the chief executive’s wife was going on, were locked up.

There was no sign of the occupants.

This is not the first time the CCWL is coming after the AMA to enforce the court ruling.

In 2008, backed by the power of the courts, the CCWL attached AMA’s equipment, vehicles and landed property, including its head office and any available property, to be auctioned to offset the debt.

Also attached to the debt was the assembly’s bank account.

The CCWL is said to have entered into a contract with the AMA in December 1997 but the contract was allegedly abrogated in 2001.

In the agreement, the AMA is said to have contracted the CCWL to provide services for pre-collection, collection and haulage of refuse within Accra.

Under the agreement, waste collection and haulage equipment for the provision of the services by the CCWL was to be provided by the AMA and leased to the company for a term of five years, while landfill equipment was to be leased for seven years.

The CCWL was to pay user fees to the AMA for the equipment over five years from the inception of the agreement for waste collection and haulage equipment and over seven years for that of the landfill equipment.

After the respective periods, the equipment was to become the property of the CCWL.

During the pendency of the agreement, the CCWL submitted various invoices to the AMA for payment in respect of work done but the assembly paid only a fraction of the invoices.

The CCWL, therefore, sued the AMA in 2002, claiming GH¢12 million, being the cost of the services it rendered to the assembly in two years but which was in arrears at the time the contract was abrogated.

The High Court granted the reliefs sought by the CCWL and ordered the AMA to pay the amount.

Not satisfied, however, the AMA appealed against the judgement but lost at the Court of Appeal.

It then proceeded to the Supreme Court where it lost again.

The Supreme Court, presided over by Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, with Dr Justice S. K. Date-Bah, Mr Justice J. Ansah, Mr Justice R. T. Aninakwah and Mr Justice S. K. Asiamah as members, in a unanimous decision on February 13, 2012, ordered the AMA to pay the amount plus interest, which amounted to GH¢29 million, by August this year.

In May 2008, the AMA made an application to the Supreme Court to pay the money in installments but was ordered to pay the initial amount of GH¢12 million by August the same year and spread the remainder over one year.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, lawyers for the CCWL filed a writ of possession and officials of the company started effecting the court order.

A copy of the court’s order was then posted at the AMA’s head office in Accra, with portions of the order mandating the company to seize the assembly’s property for public auction if it failed to take steps to pay the debt.

With the AMA not fulfilling the court order, officials of the CCWL stormed the AMA in September 2008 and carted away a number of Tata pick-ups and computers belonging to the assembly.

Some of the items were returned later.

That was the last time anything public was heard of the CCWL and its tango with the AMA over the payment of the debt.