The Mayor of Kumasi, Mr. Kojo Bonsu has reportedly incurred the wrath of authorities at the Manhyia Palace, following a letter he wrote, questioning the legitimacy of a representative of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, in the process involving the ongoing Kejetia/Central Market Redevelopment Project.
The Manhyia Palace is not enthused about the approach being adopted by the Kumasi Mayor with respect to the funding, as well as the distribution of some completed stores for which reason the traditional authority has raised objections, culminating in the controversial letter, which has further muddied the waters.
The said letter, dated June 13, 2016, authored by the Mayor himself and addressed to the representative of the Asantehene on a committee set up by the Asanteman Council to oversee arrangements for soliciting of additional funds towards some aspects of the project, Nana Agyenim Boateng, who doubles as Chief of Amoaman, denied knowledge of the existence of any representative of the Asantehene, a development that had reportedly incensed the traditional authority.
Nana Agyenim Boateng has told The Chronicle in a telephone interview that he will not publicly comment on the matter until he has formally briefed The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, on whose authority he derived his powers, on the matters arising, though he has confirmed receiving a copy of the letter challenging his locus.
Details of the letter, however, became public knowledge when some members of the assembly, led by the former Presiding Member, Nana Kofi Senyah, held a press conference on Monday, this week, to express its displeasure at arrangements concerning the distribution of about 2,000 stores to potential traders.
The Concerned Assembly Members have alleged that the KMA Chief Executive Officer has unilaterally changed the initial agreement concerning the allocation of the stores upon completion and are, therefore, demanding his immediate resignation.
According to the Assembly members, Mr. Kojo Bonsu, together with his Spokesperson, Sammy Gyamfi, is asking traders and market women to make an upfront payment of GHC25,000 before being allocated a store, contrarily to a recommendation made by the Committee, ordering the KMA to charge just GHC 1,500 as downward payment and stagger the rest of the amount over a period of time.
The aggrieved members also want the KMA Boss to be sanctioned for allegedly showing gross and total disrespect to the Manhyia Palace and Asanteman Council, which is the heart and soul of the Asante Kingdom.
Facts of the issue
According to information gathered by The Chronicle, prior to the dissolution of the old assembly, The Asanteman Council, chaired by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, set up a committee to oversee concerns raised by traders who initially opposed the project on basis that they may lose ownership of their stores upon completion.
As part of the composition of the Committee, The Asantehene appointed Nana Agyenim Boateng, The Chief of Amoaman, to act as his representative and liaise between the assembly and the Manhyia Palace, as far as the redevelopment of the Kejetia and Central Market was concerned.
The Committee, amongst others, was asked to do all arrangements with respect to how the stores upon completion, will be allocated in order to ensure that the traders who once occupied the place, would have access to them. Additionally, the Committee was also expected to mobilise additional funding for the completion of some aspects of the project as the initial amount earmarked for the first phase, which totalled about 198 Million Dollars had been exhausted without completion.
However, confusion was said to have arisen after the KMA Boss decided to change the initial arrangements concerning the allocation of the completed stores numbering about 2,000. According to information, some members of the Committee, particularly Nana Agyenim Boateng, raised objection to the decision by the Mayor as it ran contrarily to the one agreed earlier at the commencement of the project.
Though Nana Agyenim Boateng will not disclose any details of his interactions with the Mayor concerning the project, The Chronicle is informed of some efforts which were being made by the Chief to solicit funds for some aspects of the project. It was for this reason that Mr. Kojo Bonsu, in his personal capacity, wrote a letter to Nana Agyenim Boateng asking him to provide appropriate evidence of his claim so that the assembly could update its record.
The opening part of the letter, titled “CLARIFICATION OF ISSUES REGARDING THE ONGOING KEJETIA/CENTRAL MARKET REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT” reads: “You have made a number of representations to the effect that you are the representative/liaison of Manhyia Palace and for that matter Nananom on the ongoing Kejetia/Central Market Redevelopment Project.
“Unfortunately, the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly has no formal notification of your said status on the Kejetia project”. The letter further added “Regarding the steps you have taken to solicit funds for some aspects of the project, we would also be grateful if you could update us on such a role and how you are to be reimbursed”.
But details of the letter, The Chronicle gathered, has raised serious anger amongst some members of the traditional authority as some of them see it as an attempt by the Kumasi Mayor to subvert the authority of Nananom. Nana Agyenim Boateng, who sounded a bit disturbed during the interview, declined to make any further pronouncement until he has briefed the Asantehene on the matter.
“I am a staff of the Produce Buying Company (PBC) but I am also the Chief of the Amoaman Community, by virtue of my position as a traditional ruler, my King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II appointed me to represent him and to chair the Committee. “So for now I will reserve any comment until I have shown him the letter and sought his advice,” Nana Agyenim Boateng noted.
The Assemblymembers beef
But the aggrieved Assembly members are protesting the fact that they have been kept in the dark by the MCE, especially as far as the fixing of the fees and other arrangements were concerned.
According to them, Mr. Kojo Bonsu ought to have written formally to inform the house about ongoing progress and fresh arrangements concerning the project since it was the duty of the assembly to supervise the process. The spokesperson for the group, Nana Kofi Senyah, pointed out that the Mayor has taken the advantage of the fact that the assembly does not have a Presiding Member and for this reason most decisions were unilaterally being taken by him.
They, however, contend that major issues like the funding for such big project which involves huge amounts ought to be deferred and brought to the house for deliberation. The angry members are, therefore, calling on the Kumasi Mayor to with immediate effect exit the position, threatening that they would be forced to impeach him if he fails to do so.
Response by the KMA
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the KMA, Mr. Godwin Okumah Nyame, has declined to respond to the allegations being made by the Assembly members, stressing that the assembly will formally hold a press conference at a later date to respond to the issues raised.