MARITIME and Dockworkers’ Union (MDU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) are fuming with anger over the impending takeover of Reefer Container business from Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority (GPHA) by Meridian Port Services (MPS).
The move by MPS, according to reports, stems, from security lapses which have allegedly led to massive loss of Reefer Containers at the terminal.
Nonetheless, MDU have argued that the takeover will have dire consequences on its members and are thus calling for immediate termination of the takeover process.
Consequently, both the Trades Union Congress and the Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union have called on the central government to-as a matter of urgency-review the MPS Concession agreement.
Addressing a press conference on the matter last Monday, the General Secretary of Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union, Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, explained that by that arrangement, MPS had become the beneficiary of revenues accruing from the reefer container business.
Touching on the ongoing negotiation of the concession, he reminded the central government that the MPS terminal three project was a good project with a bad agreement, noting that it would result in the loss of substantial revenues of GPHA as there would be reduction of stevedoring, shore handling works, port dues, terminal area fee among others.
“Today, the GPHA Reefer Terminal has become a graveyard with virtually no activity. By this arrangement, MPS has become the beneficiary of revenues accruing from the Reefer Container business, which is a huge bonus on top of the generous incentives provided in the concession agreement,” he stressed.
To this end, Mr Owusu-Koranteng called on the government to address the issue of takeover of the Reefer Container business from GPHA under the cloak of loss of Reefer Containers as a matter of urgency.
He stressed that “If there are genuine security lapses at the GPHA Reefer Container Terminal in spite of the heavy presence of the security personnel and other paramilitary officers, we must fix them and not use any excuse to deny GPHA/Government the revenues from their investment in the Reefer Container Terminal.
According to him, the directive of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on Reefer Container Business amounts to throwing away the baby with the bathwater.
With all the generous incentives, he stated that the Terminal 3 project benefitted from a tax waiver of $ 836 million when the project cost was $ 1.5 billion.
He noted that the tax waiver remained at the same level even when the project cost had been revalued at $ 1.1billion.
In the view of MDU, the proposals of MPS were only palliatives.
These, Mr Owusu-Koranteng, said would not be able to address the key issue of revenue generation for GPHA, job creation and the problem of job losses.
Such a proposal, he said will convert GPHA from a ‘Landlord’ status to a vulnerable entity that has to survive on dole outs from its tenant-MPS.
“The negative effects of the operations of MPS Terminal 3 on job losses permeate the entire maritime industry. Some maritime companies have expressed their intentions to lay many workers off because of the effects of the operations of MPS on GPHA’s container handling business,” he added.
“We are of the strong opinion that GPHA should have held on to its proposals presented for the negotiations in order to achieve substantial review of the bad MPS Concession Agreement. However, we are compelled to support the position of GPHA in its modest request to work on 20% of the Eligible Vessels. Our support to GPHA is because we recognise that GPHA being a party to the concession agreement stands at a better position to define what is in the best interest of the Authority in this difficult situation,” he reiterated.
In conclusion, Mr Owusu-Koranteng averred: “We expect the shareholders of MPH to grant the modest demand of GPHA to handle 20% of the Eligible Vessels in the interest of peace and harmonious relationship. We believe that such a modest demand of GPHA would not collapse the MPS project but GPHA may not be able to survive the financial trauma of the negative effects of the project if the shareholders of MPH do not make concessions in the negotiations that will ensure the financial viability of GPHA for job creation, increased revenue generation and the protection of existing jobs.”
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU