Audio Attachment:Listen to Elizabeth Okoro in an interview with Kwami Sefa-Kayi on Peace Fm's "kokrokoo" programme.
The Ministry of Tourism has closed down the Atlantic Lobster and Dolphins Ltd, a seafood restaurant in Osu, Accra, for flouting the country’s tourism laws.
Atlantic Lobster and Dolphin Ltd is a shop down Papaye road in Osu which deals in seafood. They recently opened an open air restaurant above their shop serving seafood.
The seafood restaurant is also alleged to be perpetuating racism in the country.
Deputy Tourism Minister James Agyenim Boateng who confirmed this to PeaceFM, also added that the restaurant was operating as a catering service but failed to adhere to legislative instrument by registering with the Ghana Tourism Board.
He however denied that the closure is premised on the allegations of racial discrimination, even though he admits that one of the Italian owners has confirmed making the racial comments.
According to the Deputy Minister, the Italian owner said his remark was only meant as a joke, but the lady can take the matter up in court by filing a civil suit.
It would be recalled that Elizabeth Okoro, a young woman with Ghanaian and Nigerian parentage was reportedly denied access to the restaurant with the explanation that it was 'opened to whites only'.
Okoro, who spoke to Kwami Sefa Kayi in an interview on PeaceFM's "Kokrokoo" Morning Show, said she was astounded when owners of the place told her to the face that the restaurant was operating a new policy in which 'only whites' were allowed to register and become members of the club.
The incident is said to have occurred last Wednesday, October 26th.
According to her, there is a GHc20 registration fee and you are then issue with a membership card. She recounted that on the evening of 26th October, she was invited by a Japanese colleague who is a member of the club and "we went with another colleague who is Spanish".
"After our meal our host (my Japanese colleague) asked for the receipt upon which we were presented with a piece of paper bearing a handwritten amount of GHc180. When he insisted on a proper receipt one of the Italian owners told us that this was all they gave as they were a club and not a restaurant. My colleague was told that if he insists on a receipt he would have to come to the shop the following day to be issued with a “receipt” for the purchase of seafood from the shop and not for the food we had consumed.
Nevertheless, as our Spanish colleague wanted to join the club too our host informed the owners and they fetched their membership register for him to join. At that point, I asked if I could also join to which he replied “No, it is for white people only” and then laughed. I was completely taken aback and rendered speechless that this man could have the effrontery to make such a bigoted and racist statement," she narrated.
Meanwhile, Marco Ranaldi, one of the Italian owners has debunked the allegation saying it is a complete fabrication.
Speaking in an interview with Xfm 95.1, he said the club is operational to all persons irrespective of their colour, sex, age or race. He intimated that both blacks and whites patronize the club and as a result it would be unreasonable for any of the club's operators to reject a person because he or she is black.
"We should be fools to exclude anybody...majority of people here are Ghanaians so why, we should do something like that...Before a person can enter the club, he or she must be a member with a membership card...this is because members of the club are taught how to preserve, cook and serve fish...only members are permitted to eat from the club...our unusual kinds of delicacies might have been a turn off to Ghanaians and other black people, hence, leaving people with impression that we discriminate against the black community," he explained.
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