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Sun, Jun

DOCKWORKERS IN UPROAR OVER NDC’s $1.5BN PORTS DEAL

Business & Economy

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union (MDU) has said that due process was not followed in granting a concession to Meridian Port Services (MPS) to construct a new container terminal at Tema Port.

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union (MDU) has said that due process was not followed in granting a concession to Meridian Port Services (MPS) to construct a new container terminal at Tema Port.

 

The MDU is particularly concerned that following unwarranted political interference, the concession agreement did not go through competitive bidding before it was forwarded to Parliament for ratification.

The agreement was signed while Dzifa Attivor was Minister for Transport and Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, the current chairman of the opposition National Democratic Congress, was board chairman of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).

The agreement allows MPS to develop the new terminal at a cost of US$1.5 billion and operate it for 35 years to recoup its investment.

GPHA’s share in MPS is 30 per cent, while two foreign companies ‒ Bolloré Africa Logistics and APM Terminal ‒ own the remaining 70 per cent.

Not in Ghana’s interest

The dockworkers’ union insists that the agreement in its current form is not in Ghana’s interest. It is therefore demanding that the government renegotiate it to ensure the protection of the national interest, jobs, GPHA-owned businesses, local stevedore companies and existing terminal operators.

This demand was made in a resolution passed by the MDU Council at its 63rd session, held at Tema.

The union wants the renegotiation to be done “before the commencement of business at the new terminal in June 2019 because it will be very difficult to review the concession agreement when the container terminal becomes operational”.

DI concerned

The Danquah Institute last year raised similar concerns about the agreement and threatened to take legal action against GPHA if the deal was not renegotiated.

The Accra-based think tank said nearly 70 per cent of GPHA’s revenue streams comes from its container operations business. In view of this, if the whole deal is not renegotiated, the country will lose 72 per cent of the US$109 million in revenue that GPHA made in 2017, DI said.

It argued that the anticipated annual revenue would drop to $30m; over the life of the contract, GPHA stands to lose in excess of $2bn.

Standing its ground on complete renegotiation of the contract, DI said it had directed its legal team to trigger measures aimed at challenging the agreement in court.

Collapse imminent

Like DI, the MDU Council argues that implementing the present agreement would lead to the shrinking of GPHA’s container-related business from $105m to $30m, with the resultant loss of over 1,400 jobs for GPHA alone.

“The Council notes with deep concern that the implementation of the agreement in its current form would lead to the collapse of businesses of stevedore companies, inland container depots (ICDs), Ghana Dock Labour Company (GDLC) and terminal operating companies … These could lead to massive job losses in the maritime sector.

“The Council notes that since the operations of the new container terminal would be semi-automated … there would not be substantial job creation to absorb the huge job losses for GPHA and other affected companies,” the union’s resolution said.

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