The Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union (MDU) has called on government to urgently renegotiate the 35-year concession agreement between the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and Meridian Port Services (MPS) to serve the broader interests of all industry players.
The review, it said, must include clauses which will guarantee security for jobs and investments of local businesses in the sector.
According to the union, the current agreement – which allows the building of a new semi-automated world-class container terminal – has the potential to destroy other maritime businesses and undermine the national interest.
The MDU has also raised a red flag with regard to the over-US$800million tax-waiver for the US$1.5billion investment in the concession agreement, which has been reduced to US$1.1billion after revaluation.
At the 63rd session of its National Executive Council in Tema, the MDU described the concession deal as ‘a good project with a bad agreement’.
“Government should renegotiate the concession agreement to protect jobs of GPHA workers and other operators in the port before commencement of business at the new terminal in June 2019, since it will be difficult to do so once the terminal becomes operational,” it said.
The MDU also indicated that the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) will lose much of its container-related business to the MPS terminal should the concession agreement remain as it is, which would cost the ports operator huge revenue losses from reduced royalty payments, rents, port dues, and berth occupancy, among others.
General Secretary of the MDU, Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, told the B&FT: “They [MPS] are going to do almost all the container business; this will mean that GPHA, terminal operators and other players, including stevedore companies, will lose the container operations that they do – and that has a host of implications.
“For instance, revenue for GPHA could reduce by about 60 percent with about 1,400 workers lost, while inland container depots could be no more.”
The union further expressed worry that implementing the agreement in its current form would lead to a reduction of GPHA’s container-related businesses from US$105million to US$30million, with a resultant loss of over 1,400 jobs for GPHA alone.
“The council notes with deep concern that implementation of the agreement in its current form would lead to the demise of businesses of stevedore companies, inland container depots (ICDs), Ghana Dock Labour Company (GDLC), terminal operating companies among others. These could lead to massive job losses in the maritime sector,” said the union.