Aggrieved workers of the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority (GPHA), together with members of the Maritime Dock Workers Union have for the umpteenth time, protested Government’s contract with the Meridian Port Services.
At a press conference today, they demanded that Government steps in to pressure the MPS to cede at least 10% of the container handling business at the Terminal 3 Port, saying the MPS’ refusal to cede part of the business puts the jobs of at least 1,500 workers of the GPHA in danger.
Management of MPS has rejected request that it cedes at least 20% of the container business at the Terminal 3 Port to the GPHA after at least five rounds of meetings to attempt a renegotiation failed to reach an agreement.
MPS has said that any such concession would go against its investment in the Tema Port contract which it was granted by Government in 2015. Per the contract, MPS was to expand the Tema Port at a stated cost of US$1.5billion and recoup its investment over a 35 year period of running the port.
Critics have said that the contract which was signed by former President Mahama is not in the interest of Ghana as a tax exemption component of the deal amounted to some US$830million.
Several calls on President Akufo-Addo to do something about the contract have received limp reaction from Jubilee House because the contract was duly approved by Parliament before President Mahama gave it a presidential ascent.
MPS’ investment recoup over the 35 year period started this year and since it started collecting revenues, the GPHA is said to have seen a drastic reduction in its revenue. After 3 months of MPS operation GPHA is said to have lost over US$400million from container handling alone, which constitutes some 30% of GPHA’s operational revenue.
Due to the stunted revenue, the GPHA is said to be having difficulties paying workers, provoking fears that if MPS is not impressed on to make some concession, the GPHA will be forced to lay off some 1,500 workers in the coming year.
The workers demonstration today therefore is informed by their desire to get Jubilee House to impress on MPS to get back to the negotiation table. The workers have already presented a petition to the Transport Ministry which is said to have called for a meeting between MPS and the GPHA workers tomorrow.
It has however been rumoured that the resistance of the MPS contract by GPHA workers is in actuality at the behest of some high-ups at the GPHA who are trying to use President Akufo-Addo to frustrate MPS simply because the contract was signed under the previous NDC government. Pro government newspaper, The New Crusading Guide, in April, reported that it had obtained a secret tape in which a top management member of the GPHA was captured plotting a media assault against the MPS contract with some journalists and inciting GPHA workers against the MPS deal as well.