UCC runs amok, ignores arbitration process and breaks into ‘controversial’ School of Business block

The Group Managing Director of two construction firms – TACOA Construction Limited and Barony Company Limited – Mr Henry Tackie, has told The Chronicle that the lawyer (Charles William Zwennes) of the firms is going to take on the University of Cape Coast (UCC) for disregarding an arbitration process.

According to the Group Managing Director, the management of the UCC had allegedly broken into a new School of Business block, which is a subject of litigation that had been referred to the Chief Justice for direction.

According to information available to The Chronicle, the contractors refused to hand over the keys of the School of Business and a three-storey multi-purpose building for the College of Distance Education (CODE) block to the university authorities for non-payment.

As a result, the university dragged the construction firms – TACOA Construction Limited and Barony Company Limited – to a Cape Coast High Court to compel them (contractors) to release the keys to the building executed by the firms to the university.

However, the High Court, on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, presided over by Her Ladyship Patience Mills-Tetteh, dismissed a motion to put a mandatory injunction on the firms.

In addition, it ruled that the case be referred to Her Ladyship the Chief Justice for transfer to Accra.

“The order granted on June 19, 2019, hereby vacated. Motion to notice to transfer this suit to Accra hereby granted. Registrar to refer the suit to Her Ladyship the Chief Justice for transfer to Accra,” the court, in its ruling on Suit No RPC/01/2019, stated.

Barely few days after the decision of the High Court, the management of the university allegedly broke into the building and started preparations to use it, pending the transfer of the case by the Chief Justice for determination.

The alleged action of the management of the university has left many tongues wagging at the school, wondering what could possibly be the reason the building should be broken into without waiting for the final determination of the case.

According to information The Chronicle gathered, the construction firms locked horns with the university when a powerful body at the UCC recently terminated two contracts awarded them.

Consequently, the construction firms petitioned the Education Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, to investigate what they described as gross illegality.

Following the petition, The Chronicle learnt that Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh directed the National Council of Tertiary Education (NCTE) to investigate the alleged illegal termination of the contracts awarded to the two construction firms by the UCC.

A letter, signed by Ms Wilhelmina Asamoah, Director of General Administration to the NCTE, said such serious allegations should be immediately investigated.

The Ministry, in its letter, indicated that the Vice-Chancellor of the UCC, Professor Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, had issued a note to TACOA Construction Limited to terminate all projects, on the basis of alleged submission of a fake contract for signature.

Based on this, the Ministry asked the NCTE to set up a panel to investigate the allegation and report on the petition within a month.

The Chronicle learnt that between 2014 and 2015, the UCC awarded four contracts to TACOA Construction Limited and Barony Company Limited, which included the construction of a three-story multi-purpose building for the College of Distance Education (CODE), University of Cape Coast, construction of Regional Study Centre for the College of Continuing Education at Zuarungu in the Upper East Region, construction of office block for the School of Business of the University at Cape Coast, and construction of a three-storey Regional Study Centre at Jumapo in the Eastern Region.

Though some of the buildings had been completed and already put to use, the management of the UCC allegedly had issues with the construction firms for alleged inflated contracts sums.

But, the argument by the UCC, the Group Managing Director of the two construction firms said, was false.

He explained to The Chronicle that the scope of the contracts continuously changed due to variation, additions and alterations made by the project supervisors, in effect, making it difficult for the smooth progress of the contracts.

“The instructions and variation orders issued for these changes were made after a considerable project period had been expended. This significantly affected the scheduled completion, cost, and cash flow to the project.

More grievously was when an import order had been made for some offshore materials for the project,” the Group Managing Director, Mr Tackie said.

He further told The Chronicle that the construction firms, seeking a peaceful resolution to the numerous issues confronting the projects, petitioned the President of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors, who is the agreed arbiter, for the amicable solution of these numerous challenges, however, the UCC brazenly ignored the arbitration process, including the determination of the case which the Cape Coast High Court had said should be referred to the Chief Justice in Accra.

When The Chronicle reached Felix Adu-Poku, Director of Communication for the UCC, on the telephone on the issue, he said: “I am not on top of this matter and so I am unable to say anything.”

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