Ghana: Automobile company ‘recommended’ by Agric Ministry disappears with farmers’ huge deposit

Some farmers are in life-and-death grief in the Upper East Region as an automobile company said to have been officially recommended to them by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is believed to have fled with some large amounts of cash they deposited individually to acquire subsidized tractors and other automobiles for farming purposes.

Amos Abane, one of the affected farmers, told Starr News he made a partial payment of GH¢36,200 in 2013 (8 years ago) to ADPL Auto Services for a 70-horsepower tractor valued at GH¢76,000.

Then, he was assured that the tractor would be delivered in 3 months’ time as part of an agreement he had with the company.

His expectations grew into uncertainties as the company failed to keep its word.

Anxious, he placed a complaint call to the company soon after the promised period had elapsed; but the firm, in response to that call, rather sought to dispatch a 50-horsepower tractor to him on the excuse that the price of the 70-horsepower brand he requested had been increased generally on the market.

“They said I should go for the tractor at the MOFA office in Bolgatanga. When I went there, it was a small one I met— 50 horsepower— not the 70 horsepower that I paid for.

I called them again and told them the agreement was 70 horsepower and asked why they were giving me 50 horsepower without a trailer and a harrow.

“I asked them how much I was supposed to pay for the small one even if I would have to accept it like that. They told me it was the same cost as the 70 horsepower because inflation had made tractor prices go up.

“I said the 50 horsepower could not serve the purpose. Then, they said if I wanted the 70 horsepower, the price had gone up and that I should add Gh¢15,000 to the Gh¢76,000. I paid the extra Gh¢15,000 but the tractor never came,” Abane said.

He said he kept pressing for the tractor until the company finally came clean about its inability to provide the tractor and promised to return his money.

Later, he received a letter from the company saying the promised refund would be made through a post-dated cheque in 6 months’ time.

The cheque came through MOFA but it could not be processed when Abane took it to a branch of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) in the Upper East regional capital, Bolgatanga.

The amount that was discovered in the company’s account at the bank at the time was just a little over GH¢36, according to him.

He says the company does not answer telephone calls from him anymore since then— since 20th August 2015. The company “fails” to show up at High Court

Robert Ababil, another agro-businessman, suffered the same disappointment after he paid Gh¢17,500 to the same company to procure a subsidized Kia truck for a sachet water packaging business and for farming activities.

Ababil also complained to the company in a telephone call about the non-delivery of the long-paid-for truck and he, too, received a post-dated cheque from the company for a refund of his money.

But, as it did happen to Abane at last, he, too, had his hopes dashed after the cheque “bounced back in his face” at the ADB’s branch in Bolgatanga.

The amount of money he met in the company’s account could not even help him back home on a cheap public minibus if he withdrew it at the bank.

Frustrated, Ababil and Abane resorted to legal action. But they became even more depressed as the company reportedly remained evasive by failing to appear at the Bolgatanga High Court Two from the time the case began in 2015 up to a moment in 2016 that saw the two complainants suddenly decide on their own (out of increasing weariness) to stop appearing for the hearing.

“What I am going through is worse than what anyone can call challenges. I was selling cement and I put all the money I had from that cement business into trying to purchase a tractor for farming. That ended it. Now, I’m out of business. The most painful part was when my children got admissions and couldn’t proceed.

“One of my children gained a university admission to study architecture but I could not raise money for him to join his colleagues because of what had happened to me. He is now in Kumasi working miserably as a loading boy at a lorry station.

“My daughter also had admission at the Navrongo College of Education. The extended family had to sit in a meeting to mobilize money in bits before she was able to go to school. I have suffered a lot. Ababil’s business, too, as I am much aware, is suffering today because there is a limit to how far he can distribute the pure water he is selling without the Kia truck he paid so much for. He is struggling seriously,” Abane said.

Telephone calls placed to the company by Starr News upon receipt of the complaints from the bankrupt farmers went unanswered.

When Starr News approached authorities at the MoFA’s regional department in Bolgatanga with copies of documents bearing the MoFA stamp and detailing transactions that have left some already-poor farmers in the region rather more impoverished, the authorities said they would contact the “National Agric Engineering Directorate” on the matter and investigate the staff involved in the deal. Starr News will keep the spotlight on this subject.

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