Crime

2 Kumasi Cement managers arrested

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Two managers of Kumasi Cement Ghana have been arrested by officials of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and trade standards inspectors of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).

The two, Huang Guangshun and Fang Yuan, marketing managers of KCG, were arrested at the factory, near Ejisu in the Ashanti Region last Tuesday evening.

The arrest comes after the factory was found to be producing cement with substandard raw materials, despite being banned from operating by the GSA.

Last week, the GSA shut down the operations of Xin An Safe Cement Ghana Ltd, Kumasi Cement Ghana Ltd and Unicem Cement Ghana Ltd after their licences had been revoked for using inferior materials in cement production.

The Ashanti Regional Manager of the GSA, Dr Samuel K. Frimpong, who disclosed the details of the arrest to the Daily Graphic, said the company kept operating in violation of the authority’s directive to cease operations.

“They claimed to have been asked to keep producing by an unnamed top government official but we acted per the law and got them arrested,” he said.

Dr Frimpong said the factory had now been locked under a GSA seal as the prosecution of the arrested officials commenced.

“They are still in custody,” Dr Frimpong told the Daily Graphic last Wednesday afternoon.

Undertaking
Meanwhile, officials from Xin An Safe Cement Ghana Ltd and Unicem Cement Ghana Ltd signed an undertaking at the head office of the GSA last Tuesday to “adhere to specified quality standards in cement manufacturing”.

They have pledged to, among others, “comply with all regulatory standards and requirements governing cement manufacturing in Ghana.”

“Our processes will align with the guidelines set by the Ghana Standards Authority,” they affirmed.

The GSA is, however, yet to authorise the resumption of the operations of the two companies.

More action
The Minister of Trade and Industry, K. T. Hammond, last Monday told the media that the closure of the cement factories was part of a grand move to clamp down on substandard cement production across the country.

He said the move was a reflection of what the ministry intended to do this year in the area of standards enforcement.

“Since I came to the ministry, I have been receiving reports and have been alarmed by the extent of difficulty in the cement industry and I want to streamline it,” the minister said.

Mr Hammond added that a Legislative Instrument, known as the GSA Cement Manufacturing Regulations, would be laid before parliament to guide operations in the industry.

The Director-General of the GSA, Professor Alex Dodoo, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that similar arrests would be made at any other factory where production continued without authorisation.

He said the actions of the GSA were in line with the provisions of Section 44 of the GSA Act.

Prof. Dodoo said the GSA was determined to ensure fair trade hinged on conformity to standards to ensure that the country was competitive, especially in the manufacturing industry.

Already, the GSA and the ministry have announced the suspension of new cement factory construction, pending a streamlined permit issuance process by regulatory institutions.

The CEO of the Chamber of Cement Manufacturers, Ghana (COCMAG), Rev. Dr George Dawson-Ahmoah, applauded the GSA for “the bold and swift move” which would go a long way to bring sanity into the industry.

He told the Daily Graphic in an interview that COCMAG was collaborating with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the GSA to develop optimal environment, safety and cement quality standards, and to combat unfair trade practices when they arise.

Rev. Dr Dawson-Ahmoah said the renewed enforcement drive of the GSA would ensure the growth of the cement industry.

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