Maritime & Dock workers union to challenge Atuabo Freeport Project In Court

Mr. Daniel Owusu Koranteng

Mr. Daniel Owusu Koranteng

The Maritime and Dock Workers Union say they will soon go to court to challenge the development of a free port at Atuabo. The project which is an agreement between the Government of Ghana and Lonrho Ports Limited for the development of a free port in the Western Region, grants the Lonrho the exclusive right to provide specialized services for the oil and gas industry.

The firm is also exempted from paying tax for the next 25 years, with the luxury of a renewal for another 25 years.

It also restricts Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority and all others from developing similar facilities within the geographical region.

On August 16, 2011, the Government of Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Lonrho Ports, a 100% subsidiary of Lonrho Plc, to carry out a feasibility study for the development of “a new, dedicated” oil services terminal in the Western Region.

The $400 million deal, which was said to have been stopped by the late President Mills, only received further impetus with the assumption of office by President Mahama.

But the Maritime and Dock Workers union say the contract which was ratified by Parliament undermines the laws of Ghana and its national sovereignty and security.

Speaking on Ultimate Radio, General Secretary of the Maritime and Dock Workers Union, Daniel Owusu Koranteng, indicated that government had “granted the GPHA a loan of some 195million to expand the Takoradi port and then in expansion put in place the same terminal to service the oil and gas industry.”

He then wondered why government will sidestep GPHA and restrict it from carrying out that mandate within the next twenty five years and should Lonrho extend its contract, be barred for another twenty five years.

He emphasized, “they have broken the law of exclusivity, sovereignty and security; issues that are very critical in determining how Ghana will be run in the next few years.”

“If I live in a country today and my ports are handled by multinationals I wouldn’t feel safe because when there are even laws, a multinational will want to undermine the laws in their interest so how do we leave our national security in their hands” he questioned.

Already some five members of Ghana’s parliament are in court challenging aspects of the contract.

However Daniel Owusu Koranteng was emphatic that their action is independent of the suit initiated by the MPs.

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