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#HandsOffOurHotels: "State assets should not be sold to Bryan Acheampong" - Okudzeto Ablakwa

On Tuesday, a group of protesters gathered at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra to express their opposition to the sale of a 60% stake in four hotels owned by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to Rock City Hotel.

The protest, dubbed “Hands Off Our Hotels,” was spearheaded by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu.

The hotels involved in the controversial sale include Labadi Beach Hotel, La Palm Royal Beach Resort, Elmina Beach Resort, Ridge Royal Hotel, Busua Beach Resort, and Trust Lodge Hotel.

Organised Labour and other stakeholders have joined Ablakwa in questioning the transparency and fairness of the process that selected Rock City Hotel as the buyer.

Mr. Ablakwa has raised concerns over a potential conflict of interest, given that Rock City Hotel is owned by Bryan Acheampong, the current Minister of Food and Agriculture.

In response, Acheampong has denied any wrongdoing, distancing himself from the daily operations of Rock City Hotel.

He emphasized his role as a non-executive director, stating,

“There is a difference between Bryan Acheampong and Rock City. I own the company, but I do not make daily decisions for it.”

SSNIT has defended its decision, stating that the sale followed an International Competitive Tendering (ICT) process as per the Public Procurement Act, and was aimed at raising capital and improving management of the hotels.

This strategic move, SSNIT claims, began in 2018.

Despite these assurances, Ablakwa has filed a petition with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for an investigation into the sale.

He describes the transaction as an act of “state capture” and is determined to halt the process.

During the protest march, which began at Labadi Beach Hotel and proceeded to the Jubilee House, the seat of government, demonstrators carried placards with messages such as “Hands Off Our Hotels,”

“Bryan, Don’t Be a Thief,” and “Pensioners Deserve Better.”

The protesters argue that profitable state assets, like the Labadi Beach Hotel and Ridge Royal Hotel, should not be sold, especially without the consent of the workers.

Mr. Ablakwa called on President Akufo-Addo to intervene and stop the sale.

He warned that if the president does not respond favorably, the demonstrations would spread to other regions, including the Central Region, where hotels like Ridge Royal and Elmina Resort are located.

“We may go to the Central Region where very iconic hotels like Ridge Royal and Elmina Resort are, and then remember that Busua Lodge and Trust Lodge are under attack,” Ablakwa said.

He stressed that the government should not sell state assets to politically exposed persons like Bryan Acheampong, and accused the administration of deliberately running down state assets for political gain.

The protesters insist that state assets should be preserved for the benefit of the public and future generations, rather than being sold off under questionable circumstances.

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith



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