MDU insists that the construction of the port is inconsistent with the country’s laws and maritime development strategy.
Lonrho Limited, which is based in the United Kingdom (UK) with presence in 18 African countries, has acquired 514 hectares of land at Atuabo in the Ellembelle District for the construction of an oil and gas port terminal.
In August 2011, government and the U.K based company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop an oil service terminal in the Western region.
The MoU allowed Lonrho 12 months to conduct a feasibility study to consider the viability of the project and make decision on whether to proceed or not.
The project, which is expected to be fully operational in 2016, will cover three kilometers of the coast of Atuabo and Anokyi and one kilometer inland to cover parts of Asemda-Suazo, all in the Ellembelle District.
It involves the construction of temporary workshops, a harbour protected by a rock breakwater to the west and a rock groin to the east, a dredged approach channel, a turning circle, berth pockets and quays.
Other components are service facilities to be located in the port along the quays to provide support services to the off-shore oil and gas industry, including rig repair, waste treatment and management, fabrication and supply facilities.
The project will also see the construction of an airstrip and a helipad to facilitate aircraft and helicopter transportation, as well as other infrastructure like power generation, boreholes, accommodation, offices, a naval base, hydrocarbon fuels storage area and roads.
A visit by DAILY GUIDE to the fishing community of Atuabo revealed that the indigenes were keenly expecting the commencement of the project.
They claimed that the project would definitely improve the local economy by creating jobs in particular.
The people expressed optimism that the new port would lead to the development of infrastructure in the three communities and enhance their lives.
Impact on economy
Speaking on behalf of the residents, John Quashie, Assembly Member for Atuabo, noted that information available to him indicated that construction works on the port would commence very soon.
He remarked that the project was expected to have significant impact in the economy of the Western Region, stressing that it has the potential to attract more foreign investment into the country.
‘It is expected that during the period of construction, there will be a significant amount of materials purchased from within Ghana, apart from the project enhancing business experience, skills training and job opportunities.
Environmental impact assessment
He told DAILY GUIDE that at an environmental impact assessing hearing at Atuabo, Lonrho outlined its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), detailing how the company plans to mitigate any environmental impact that the project would unleash on the communities.
He stressed that the Development Manager of Lonrho, Steve Gray, explained that the project would impact positively on the lives of people in the area.
The people also called on the company to demonstrate its commitment to organising skills training for community members to enable them to take advantage of the project, he said.
As part of efforts to publicize certain facts about the construction of the port, Lonrho has placed notice boards at vantage points at Atuabo and Anokyi with certain vital information for the people to read.
Dockworkers Petition Parliament
The Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU) has petitioned Parliament not to legitimize the development of the Atuabo Port by Lonrho, noting that it would blatantly violate the laws of Ghana.
According to MDU, the plan by the NDC government to allow Lonrho Ports to operate a free port in the country ‘will not be in the supreme interest of our country, either in the short or long term.’
They claim that the development of the Atuabo Port by Lonrho Ports Ghana Limited violates the (PNDC Act 160 of 1986), which gives the Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA) the sole right to plan, build, develop, manage, maintain, operate and control ports.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Atuabo
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