Traders sue minister over Kotokoraba stores allocation

Mr.Kweku Ricketts-Hagan,Central Regional Minister

Mr.Kweku Ricketts-Hagan,Central Regional Minister

Eight traders of the old Cape Coast Kotokuraba Market have filed an application at a Cape Coast High Court for an interim injunction against the allocation of stores in the recently inaugurated ultra-modern market.

The aggrieved traders calling themselves ‘Concerned Market Traders’, are praying the court  to restrain  the Central Regional Minister and others  from  interfering  or disposing  of the stores  without giving  first option  to sitting tenants as ordered by the court  before the demolition of the old market.

The defendants are the Central Regional Minister, Mr. Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, the Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mrs. Pricilla Arhin-Korankye, the Planning Officer of Cape Coast, the Attorney General and the contractor of the Kotokuraba Market temporary stores.

Led by Sabina Chinbuah, the same group of traders who were in court over the demolition of the market two years ago, also want any further order (s) the court may deem fit in the circumstance.

When the case was called yesterday, the court, presided over by Mr. Justice Kwesi Dapaah, adjourned to January 17, 2017, because counsel for the defendants, Mr. Harry Hayford, was yet to receive some affidavits.

The plaintiffs are represented by Mr. Kwadwo Tuffour.

From the entrance of the courtroom through the courtyard and into the streets, traders from both sides who had come to court traded insults.

It would be recalled that the demolition of the old market to pave the way for the construction of the new one was preceded by weeks of legal tussle between the aggrieved traders and the assembly and the other defendants.

The traders had alleged, among others things, that cubicles in the temporary market were made with inferior materials, not human friendly, too small and too warm and were inconvenient for business, thus their decision to seek redress in court.

The demolition, originally scheduled for October 1, 2014, was halted by an interlocutory injunction filed at the High Court until the case was finally determined and the court ordered for the demolition to take place after midnight of Friday, December 19, 2014.

The court, however, gave conditions for the demolition, which were that written alternative notes should be given to the plaintiffs and the members of the Concerned Market Traders, assuring them  that they would be allocated  space in the ultra-modern structure, when completed.

The assembly and other defendants were also to hand over to each of the eight applicants, keys to their cubicles in the temporary structure, in not less than seven days before the demolition exercise was held.

Inaugurating the market last month, the outgoing President John Dramani Mahama, commended the CCMA and the Regional Coordinating Council over the decision to give the management of the facility out to a private firm.

He, however, directed that the occupants of the old market should be allocated space before others were considered, apparently due to rumours that the spaces would be distributed on party lines leaving out original occupants.

The Kotokuraba market was constructed by the China Railway Construction Engineering Group Limited with a 31.75 million US dollar concessionary loan from the China Exim Bank through the Chinese government, initiated by the late President Prof. Evans Atta Mills.

It has 246  lockable shops , 496 stalls, 26 supermarkets, two banks, a restaurant, 14 office spaces, a nursery, clinic, fire station, post office, butchery , cold store , warehouse , and two level car parks  with  a total of 188 capacity.

It also has a water storage facility, generator set, CCTV cameras and security rooms to ensure utmost security, while savings made from the contract  is being used to construct additional structures to accommodate more traders.

From Jonathan Donkor, Cape Coast

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