AT THE GHANA HOTELS ASSOCIATION MEETING:”A CONFLICT OF INTEREST!”

Posted on June 8, 2009

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Healthy business associations are  essential to any democracy. They provide  a forum where all members can freely express their views no matter who, or should I say, what authority is present.

Today I would like to celebrate James Nkatia-Kumi, a Kumasi hotel proprietor  who stood up at the regular June monthly meeting of the Ashanti Ghana Hotels Association following a joint presentation by an officer of the Ghana Fire  Service in the company of a private fire certificate contractor and literally shouted: “There’s a conflict of interest here.”

Wow, the assembly was stunned.

As background, to legally operate  in the formal sector in Ghana , a business must acquire a FIRE CERTIFICATE by engaging an approved fire engineering consultancy to prepare a report and fire plan on the establishment which is submitted to the Ghana Fire Service for approval. The business is billed by both the Ghana Fire Service using a strict formula based on the total area of the establishment times an amount of money per square foot and the fire consultancy firm, whose charges, we were told, vary and were negotiable.

At the meeting the Ghana Fire Service officer reminded the hoteliers of their legal obligation to acquire a Fire Certificate and stated that to date only 40% of hotels in Kumasi  had acquired one. He then introduced the managing director of the fire consultancy firm he had come with who then started to sell his company and his services…

Then came the explosive comment,  our hotelier explained that just recommending one company showed favouritism. He stopped short of saying that the private contractor might have to jack up his rates and bargain harder if he had to return the favour to the Ghana Fire Service .

Well the flood gates were opened then. Comments came from a number of members stating that fire service personnel were carrying out the inspections and one hotel stated that they actually acquired for fire plan from the Ghana Fire Service. The officers reply, “This is an unfortunate.” There were reports too of a fire service officer coming to a hotel drunk and of fire service personnel coming to do maintenance on fire equipment.The officer replied that this practice is “unlawful”, ” that it is the job of the fire consultancy firms”.

Yours truly, Special Assistant to the Chairman, asked the officer how many firms in Kumasi were approved to carry out fire inspections  and prepare fire plans in order to acquire fire certificates. His answer 5. I then suggested that he should have brought representatives from all five firms. I asked the officer to provide the association with a list of approved forms and their contact numbers, so that they may be communicated to our membership.

Democracy in action!

DISCUSSION POINT: James Nkatia-Kumi  who spoke out without reservation is a diaspora Ghanaian who has returned to live and do business in Ghana. He is the proprietor of MAPLEWOOD HOTEL on the Accra Road leading into Kumasi. I truly believe that these people  make a difference in forwarding democracyand in this case a free market system. They are positive role models for the many here who know nothing else but years of repression and false promises.

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