The Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union (MDU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has commended President Akufo-Addo and his cabinet for taking immediate action to reverse the handling of Reefer Containers to the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority (GPHA).
“The President’s decision on the handling of Reefer Containers back to GPHA has brought some business to the Reefer Container Terminal of GPHA which became a grave yard in the period when Meridian Port Services (MPS) took over the Reefer Container business from GPHA,” the union said.
In a statement issued to the media, the MDU, however, stated that its members were deeply troubled about the long delay in getting the majority shareholders of MPS, which are Bollore and APM Terminal, to support the decision taken by the shareholder in Dubai on November 12, 2019 for GPHA to handle 20 per cent container business to cover the exclusivity period of 10 years.
“Government’s delay in taking action on this matter is creating anxiety among GPHA workers and the all members of the MDU,” the statement indicated and added, “We respectfully request Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to take urgent and immediate action on this issue in the interest of industrial peace in the maritime industry.”
MDU said it strongly needed the support of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and TUC-Ghana in this struggle.
The union noted that the maritime was a strategic industry and the operations of GPHA created enormous benefits, inducing the provision of avenues for sustainable revenues to government, employment opportunities and opportunities for training and internship for young people, besides contributing to the security of the nation.
According to the MDU, the MPS Terminal 3 project was constructed at a cost of about US$1.1 billion with a tax waiver of US$ 835 million, an indication that the project was mainly funded by Ghanaian tax payers.
“The benefits derived from the operations of GPHA cannot be provided by a private sector operator and we expect the TUC (Ghana) and our international affiliate, the ITF, to marshal its local and international links to support the campaign that will mount local and international pressure on the shareholders of MPS to sign the agreement to give effect to the handling of 20% containerized cargo by GPHA,” it stated.
The statement noted that since IFC provided some funding for the project, the union was proposing that TUC and ITF should use the complaint mechanism of the World Bank to lodge a complaint with the World Bank on how the MPS Terminal 3 project violates national laws of Ghana and the monopoly it had created in the handling of container business by MPS through the exclusivity clause for 10 years.
Deed of Amendment
The MDU said the “Deed of Amendment” was signed in 2015 by GPHA and MPS under the Mahama administration to develop and operate a container terminal (Terminal 3) in the Port of Tema; and indicated that this had been a subject of concern to GPHA, MDU, TUC (Ghana), GPHA Local Unions/workers and international organizations ever since.
According to the union, this was because “the procurement of the concessionaire was not transparent and did not meet international competitive bidding standards.”
“Key among the issues raised by the Inter-Ministerial Committee which was set up by the NPP government to review the agreement were the reduction of revenues for GPHA, possible loss of jobs of about 1,400 GPHA employees, violations of provisions in PNDCL 160 which grants GPHA the regulatory function of rate setting among others.
“The report of the Inter-Ministerial committee concluded that the Deed of Amendment was not in the interest of Ghana and GPHA,” it stated.
By Ernest Kofi Adu