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An investigation by freelance investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, has revealed that the Mfantsiman Constituency second vice-chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) sold an outboard motor subsidized by the government for fishermen at a higher price.
The 40-horsepower Yamaha outboard motor costs close to ¢20,000 on the market but the government gave the outboard motors to the fishermen at a subsidized price of ¢10,000.
The canoe fishermen were supposed to register with details of their canoes and pay to the bank before being allocated the outboard motors.
However, there are widespread reports that executives of the governing NPP have hijacked the outboard motors and now sell them above the subsidized price.
In August, canoe fishermen in Elmina held a press conference and called on the government to investigate the illegal activities of party people because the practice defeated the subsidy initiative.
Mr Azure Awuni and his team went undercover in to expose the practice.
They got contacts at Apam, Moree, and Biriwa in the Central Region and one in the Western Region, who had the government’s subsidized outboard motors to sell above the subsidized price.
At Biriwa in the Mfantsiman Municipality, the undercover team was first led to the NPP constituency women’s organizer who was said to have some machines for sale.
She argued that there was nothing wrong with the practice since the essence of being in politics was to ensure benefit and that’s how some of them benefitted.
“If I already have one on my canoe and they give me an additional one, what am I supposed to do? I have to sell it and take the commission,” she said.
“Nobody follows a government and would go empty hands. There is a reason we do politics, the benefit,” she added.
She told the undercover team that she had no outboard motor at the moment but she knew one executive who had one. She then called a middle man who dealt on behalf of the Constituency second-vice chairman of the NPP, David Awotwe.
The middleman led the undercover team to Mr. Awotwe’s house in Biriwa to see the outboard motor and later led them to an uncompleted house for the negotiation. Mr Awotwe later joined them there.
They admitted Mr Awotwe bought it from the government’s subsidized consignment at ¢10,000 but quoted ¢16,000 as the selling price. The undercover team asked for a reduction but they would not sell it a pesewa less.
Mr. Awortwe said but for the intervention of the man who had led them to him, he would not have sold it. He said he preferred to deal with the Ivorians, from whom he was sure to have a better price.
He said a woman had from Ankaful had wanted to buy but he refused to sell, adding that he knew someone who had sold his for ¢17,000.
The undercover team paid him cash and asked for a receipt. He wrote the receipt on a 2019 NPP notepad and signed.
When Manasseh called him later and asked for his response to the encounter with the undercover agents, David Awotwe admitted selling the machine.
He explained that he was not a fisherman but he used the details of his late uncle’s fishing canoe to secure the machine.
When asked why he resold it at a higher price, he said he had acquired the machine for his relatives to use for fishing but after buying the outboard motor, he realized that the canoe had developed some defects and needed repairs.
He said he had decided to sell the machine and use the money to repair the canoe and use part to pay for the loan which was contracted to buy the outboard motor. He would go for another loan to buy an outboard motor after repairing the canoe, he said.
Manasseh asked him what the condition of the canoe was at the time he bought the outboard motor. He replied that the canoe was had defects but he did not know the extent of the defect.
The municipal chief executive of Mfantsiman, Keneth Kelly Essuman, said he knew Mr. Awotwe was not a fisherman but was allocated the subsidized outboard motor when he registered with details of his late uncle’s fishing gears.
He admitted on the Super Morning Show that it was possible that people who were not fishermen would get the outboard motors.
When presented with the details, the Central Regional Minister, Kwamena Duncan, said it was unacceptable and asked the MCE to get the police to arrest Mr. Awotwe.
Speaking on the Joy SMS, the CEO of the Coastal Development Authority, Jerry Ahmed Shaib said told Kojo Yanson on the Super Morning Show that he was livid at the revelations and backed the regional minister’s call for arrest and prosecution of Mr. Awotwe.
He said the government was procuring and subsidizing 5000 outboard motors for the fishermen.
Out of this his outfit had taken delivery of 1,300 and 622 outboard motors and was expecting another 2000 in the next consignment.
He said 5,400 fishermen had applied in total.
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