The establishment of the Marine Drive Tourism Investment Project at the present Centre for National Culture (CNC) on the High Street in Accra, popularly known as Arts Centre, has necessitated the relocation of performers, traders, artisans and civil servants.
The relocation exercise, headed by the Coordinator of the Marine Drive project, Mr Frederick Frimpong, was expected to transfer those affected to a new facility at Kawukudi, Nima, but it appears that may not happen because of a new letter that has been issued that has redirected the movement to another location.
An initial letter cited by Graphic Showbiz and signed by one Christopher Anibrika, Senior Land Administrator Officer of the Lands Commission in August 2021, indicated that the parcel of land registered and issued with land certificate number GA 3877 had been acquired by the state under the Executive Instrument 59/16 LS No.73/2017 dated April 19, 2016, for the Marine Drive Tourism Investment Project.
“Consequently, your interest in the said parcel of land has been extinguished in view of the acquisition by the State. You are by this correspondence informed of the cancellation of your land certificate," the letter said.
The letter required that all present occupants at the Arts Centre be transferred to Kawukudi where the coordinator of the Marine Drive project was building a new facility to house them.
However, the most recent development emerging from a recent letter dated December 29, 2021, has redirected the movement of government officials to Ghana House, High Street, instead of Kawukudi.
“As you may be aware, a relocation plan was put in place in conjunction with the Office of the Head of Civil Service to ensure the appropriate relocation of all Agencies of the Civil Service. This plan has since been successfully implemented, with several agencies duly relocated to the Ghana House building.
“As part of the relocation exercise, it has become necessary to relocate the CNC Greater Accra office, which is currently located at the Marine Drive Project site. Kindly note that adequate preparations have been made for the CNC to relocate its offices to the 4th floor of the Ghana House by January 30, 2022,” the letter noted.
This change is not one that the government officials and performing artistes who practise at the Arts Centre are pleased with.
To register their displeasure, the workers planned a demonstration on Monday, January 24, 2022, which was later aborted when the leadership of the various trading associations at the Arts Centre kicked against the move.
When Graphic Showbiz went to the Arts Centre on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, to assess the present situation, the government officials at the Arts Centre questioned why government was rescinding the decision to take them to Kawukudi as had been communicated earlier.
They pointed out that relocating to Ghana House would not serve the purpose of the Arts Centre since up and coming artists such as poets, stage actors and visual artists who use the centre would lose the opportunity.
“The recent letter shows that we are not going to Kawukudi but Ghana House which is not big enough to accommodate the various activities held at the Arts Centre. Apart from that, we are also aware that there is an administration block at the new facility at Kawukudi which could have housed us but they are refusing to take us there.
“We have also been reliably informed that the place at Kawukudi which is going to house the traders here will be supervised by a private company. When that happens, how can government make money when they don’t take rent from the traders as we are doing here?
“It’s important to find out which private company or individual is taking over from us when the traders move to Kawukudi. These are our concerns which should be addressed,” a worker spoke to Graphic Showbiz on condition of anonymity.
While the government officials may not be in support of the relocation, Bright Antwi, the Co-ordinator of the Federation of Handicraft Producers Dealers and Exporters Association that comprises the five associations of traders at the Arts Centre commended the government.
According to him, he was hopeful the new place at Kawukudi would be managed better than the present conditions at the Arts Centre.
“If the government officials have a problem with their relocation, it should be between them and their employers. For the traders, I can confidently say that we are in full support of the relocation to Kawukudi.
“Besides, the leadership of the various associations have been working closely with the coordinator of the Marine Drive project and we are satisfied with the arrangement. The first phase of 468 stalls is complete and they are already on another 288. We are ready for relocation should it happen today,” he said.
The Chairman of the Greater Accra Arts and Craft Dealers Association, Frederick Affum, refuted claims by the government officials that the administration block at the Kawukudi facility was ready.
“I don’t know where that information is coming from but as my brother said, our interest is to seek the welfare of our members. At this moment, we can only appreciate the efforts of government and the coordinator of the Marine Drive Project,” he noted.