The Local Union of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) plan a massive demonstration starting today and a series of other actions to demand that Meridian Port Services (MPS) cede 20% container business to GPHA.
According to the workers, MPS which through a concession agreement took over the container business has failed to cede 20% of the container business to GPHA as agreed after the concession.
They argued that following a petition by the Maritime Dockworkers Union, the government through the Transport Minister engaged both MPS and GPHA to ensure that, the demands of GPHA be adhered to by MPS.
The GPHA Local Union noted that during engagements, it was agreed that all refrigerated containerised cargo volumes from MPS are sent to GPHA Reefer Terminal.
Also, GPHA was to implement its intention of leasing Harbour Mobile Cranes for its containerised vessel operations.
They also said it was agreed that GPHA be allowed to handle 20% of containerised cargo traffic during the ten year exclusivity period.
GPHA Local Union Chairman Mr Arhin Young said failure to implement the agreed terms has provoked today’s demonstration and a series of actions to compel government to direct MPS to implement the deal.
The Local Union said it has engaged both management of GPHA and Transport Minister on this MPS-GPHA issues and the fallout from all the engagements sounds frustrating and hopeless.
They view the development as gross disrespect by MPS for disregarding cabinet-led directive over this period of time.
The Union described the situation as unacceptable considering the negative impact the failure to implement the deal is having on the entire workforce and financial sustenance of GPHA in general.
According to the Union, workers condition of service is getting worse with the current economic situation of the country.
In view of this, Arhin Young said the Local Union has no option than to embark on this massive demonstration to ensure that the cabinet directive is implemented to the latter to save the current situation of GPHA and beyond.
Government in 2015 negotiated the 35 years contract with MPS for the development and operationalisation of a multipurpose container terminal at the Tema Port to create a deeper vessel capacity with an accompanying container storage facility as parts of efforts to position Ghana’s ports as a hub within the West African sub-region.
According to the report, owing to the $1.1 billion investment being made into the project by MPS through the International Finance Corporation, there were clauses that were introduced into the agreement which sought to bar the GPHA from handling vessels carrying containers of 200 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) and above.
That situation, a Ministerial Committee report projected, will erode the GPHA’s income and investments it has made over the years.
Similarly, the MDU had argued that some $832 million tax exemptions granted the project should form a basis for renegotiation, since they believed the exemptions meant that the Ghanaian taxpayer had partially financed the project.
The GPHA itself, in an impact analysis conducted, had projected that it would be left with excess space and equipment as well as axle labour of about 1,400, if the agreement was not renegotiated.
It would be recalled that the Trades Union Congress, members of maritime unions who are members of the Maritime and Dockworkers Union ( MDU) and the workers of GPHA engaged in agitations in 2019 to demand 20% container business for GPHA as part of the larger campaign for the review of the agreement of MPS Terminal 3 which granted the handling of almost all container business to MPS during the Mahama administration in 2015.
Whilst MPS continues to benefit financially from the Terminal 3 agreement, GPHA is losing huge revenues everyday thus creating financial and operational problems for GPHA.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected the maritime industry negatively and it has become an urgent issue for GPHA to seek immediate implementation of the ceding of the 20% container business.