Economy loses as govt, concessionaire bicker over Enugu Hotel Presidential
The economy of Enugu State is the ultimate loser as the government of the state and the concessionaire on the Enugu Hotel Presidential bicker over the ownership of that facility which used to be an economic and cultural monument in the Coal City state.
This facility, which was the pride of the entire Eastern Region as a hospitality and cultural gravitational centre, has all the potential for revenue earning that could help to grow the economy of the state if its affairs are well managed and put to immediate economic use.
In its bid to resuscitate this moribund facility, the state government, in 2013, concessioned it to Primeview Hotels Limited (PHL) and by virtue of the Joint Venture Agreement signed between the management of the hotel, E. Hospitality Services Limited and PHL coupled with the Deed of Assignment dated February 6, 2014 between Hotel Presidential Limited and PHL, the legal title on the property was vested on PHL for 35 years, beginning from October 1, 2013.
But, since then, the concessionaire has been having challenges in its efforts at redeveloping the hotel which has suffered long period of neglect and infrastructure decay. Besides funding challenges, the concessionaire has also had to contend with litigation by a claimant to the ownership of the hotel.
A statement by the management of PHL obtained by BusinessDay at the weekend, alleges an attempt at forceful takeover of the hotel by people it further alleges to be agents of Enugu State government.
“Recently, a group of armed soldiers, policemen and Civil Defence Corps/Legionnaires forced their way into the Hotel Presidential, Enugu, manhandled our security personnel and attempted to take over the property”, the statement alleged, adding, “since they presented no letter authorising them to take that action or a valid court order, our security personnel naturally resisted but had to back down when their lives were threatened”.
The invaders, according to the statement, claimed to have been instructed to “take over the hotel” by an official of the Enugu State government who later came to the site in company of some other persons who, it was learnt, were “prospective investors” and declared she was discharging “government directive”.
“PHL has been in uninterrupted possession of the property since 2013 and has carried out extensive work onsite and offsite with a view to redeveloping and transforming the hotel to a world class hospitality facility; unfortunately, we have experienced a number of setbacks the latest of which is a pending law suit by an entity which claimed to have had previous interest in the property.
“To the extent that PHL were joined as co-defendants in the suit together with the officials of the Enugu State government, we advised the government to resolve the matter as the facts relating to the dispute arose prior to our engagement”, the statement recalled.
It recalled too that, since 2015, PHL has met with the government team including the governor, his deputy, members of the State Privatisation Council and the Commissioner of Culture and Tourism and has kept them apprised of its challenges and suggested ways in which they could move forward.
“At the last of such meetings held in June this year, it was agreed that efforts would be made to reach out to Status Symbol Limited, the litigant in the aforesaid suit, with a view to arriving at an amicable resolution so that we could all move forward without further hindrance”, the company said.
PHL has continued to work with its consultants to fine tune plans for the redevelopment of the Hotel, including making funding arrangements which have altered significantly given the foreign exchange situation and level of inflation in the country.
“This new development is, therefore, a rude shock and disappointment that the state government has decided, against good reason and disregard for the provisions of a legally binding agreement, taken matters this far with the attempted violent takeover of the Hotel from us”, the company posited.
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