The Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) has debunked media publications that Tropo Fish Farm is earmarked for demolition and has therefore assured the public their ” designs and technical solutions do not envisage demolition of any farm structures of the fish farm”.
The Authority further assured the public that it would continue to engage the Lands Commission to ensure that fair and adequate compensation payment was made to Tropo Farms as had been done to all persons affected by the project.
In a statement signed by its Chief Executive Officer Mr Yaw Owusu, the Authority emphasized that the Tema to Mpakadan Railway line project is several meters away from the fish farm itself although one of the terminals would be on the banks of the Volta Lake.
Published below in full is the statement by the Ghana Railway Development Authority.
Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) Responds to Tropo Fish Farm
The route alignment for the construction of the Tema to Mpakadan Railway Line, a 97km USD447M Indian Exim Bank funded project, runs partly through land owned by Tropo Fish Farms (Tropo Farms). The compulsory acquisition of land for the railway project was backed by an Executive Instrument (E.I. 23) dated January 2019 and published 25th, 27th and 28th February 2019. E.I. 23 effectively extinguished ownership rights of all land owners, including Tropo Farms, for portions of their lands acquired for the railway project.
The Portion of Tropo Farm property which falls within the land acquired by E.I. 23 is a land-based section of the Tropo Farms operations. Given the implication of the project and recognising the importance of Tropo Farms to the economy of the area, the GRDA, in conjunction with our project Consultants, and Contractors Afcons Infrastructure Limited of India, paid a working visit in October 2019 to the Tropo Farms to explore technical solutions to mitigate the possible impact of land acquisition on the operations of the farm. A proposed technical solution was subsequently presented to the Management of Tropo Farms in a letter dated 25th November, 2019 and referenced Z 121/384/01a. The project recommended to construct an underpass for the train operations that will not interfere with the logistical operations of Tropo Farms business. Additionally, engineers would redesign this section of the railway line to include rubber pads under the rails that will minimise vibrations from train movements.
Tropo Farms, unfortunately, rejected our technical solutions; instead, they requested for compensation to relocate the whole of the fishing business, stating that, it is not viable to produce fish for human consumption adjacent to a railway station. To relocate, Tropo Farms requested a compensation amount of USD46.2M (GHS153.36M). For context, this is equivalent to approximately 10km of railway line at project rates.
Tropo Farms ignored the executive powers and purpose of E.I. 23, and have since 2019 stopped our Contractor from working within the Right of Way established by the E.I., causing the project to incur additional costs. Tropo Farms stoppages have added approximately USD13M to the project cost and delayed the project completion date.
Contrary to Tropo Farms media pronouncements, the GRDA has, during this period, engaged Tropo Farms representatives at various levels in series of meetings. GRDA consistently requested Tropo Farms to respect the powers under E.I. 23 and grant access to the Contractors to progress site works. Yet, Tropo Farms would not heed. Furthermore, in a meeting with Tropo Farms in August 2019, the GRDA presented a construction method statement to assure all that environmental management systems and mitigation measures will be employed to ensure safety of Tropo Farms operations with no disruptions.
The Lands Commission is the statutory body mandated by the Lands Act to approve all compensation payments for state acquisitions. Discussions are underway with Lands Commission to assess a fair and adequate compensation for the section of land acquired including, as is the practice, for disturbance. In the midst of this, we consulted and were advised by the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice that the GRDA has rights to access the subject land acquired through an executive instrument and Tropo Farms have right for a fair and adequate compensation.
Tropo Farms have been assured that provision has been made in the project for fair and adequate compensation to all project affected persons in line with the law and will be paid in compliance with the Lands Commission’s procedures.
Therefore, it came as a surprise to us that, at a time when discussions and engagements were ongoing between us, Tropo Farms applied for an Injunction on the project at the Accra High Court. After a further six (6) months of delays the High Court, on 28th February 2022, denied the injunction application.
Following the refusal of their court injunction, Tropo Farms’ legal representatives hinted to us their readiness for an out-of-court settlement. We informed them of our intention to continue with the project and instructed our Contractor to take possession of the subject land as per the E.I. schedule. It is worth noting that Tropo Farms are back in court challenging court judgement
We continue to assure Tropo Farms, their staff, customers and the general public that, our designs and technical solutions do not envisage the demolition of any farm structures of the fish farm as purported in Tropo Farms’ media coverage. Instead, we shall construct a Road-Over-Bridge to provide continuous unobstructed access to Tropo Farms. The rail terminal, located on the banks of Lake Volta several meters away from the fish farm, will not disrupt the operations of the farm. Therefore, any shortages of tilapia or loss of jobs will not be consequent to the railway project as alleged by Tropo Farms.
The GRDA will continue to engage the Lands Commission to ensure that fair and adequate compensation payment is made to Tropo Farms as has been done to all persons affected by the project.
We remain committed to our duty to mitigate all negative social and environmental impacts of our project in compliance with the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency and hence, implore Tropo Farms to observe the court ruling and the executive instrument and stop hindering work progress. This is a national project with considerable benefit to the country.