MDU expresses worry over Tema Port expansion

MDU General Secretary, Daniel Owusu-Koranteng

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union (MDU) has expressed worry over the proposed construction of a new container terminal at the Tema Port by Meridian Port Services (MPS), saying it will have significant adverse effects on businesses.

It was in June 2016 that the Mahama-led NDC government got parliamentary approval for the project, but the MDU has described it as “a good project with a bad concession agreement.”

The council is therefore calling on the government to, as a matter of urgency, ‘renegotiate’ the concession agreement of the new container terminal of MPS ‘to ensure the protection of national interest’.

At its 63rd Session in November last year, the council stressed that the process of the development of the concession agreement was flawed because the contract did not go through competitive bidding due to political interference before it was presented to Parliament, resulting in the development of a concession agreement for the building of a new semi-automated world-class container terminal which has the potential to destroy other maritime businesses and undermine national interest.

“The council expresses deep worry that, when the new container terminal of MPS becomes operational in June 2019, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) will lose much of its container-related businesses which will result in loss of huge revenues from reduced royalty payments, rents, port dues, berth occupancy among others,” it said.

The council insisted that the implementation of the agreement in its current form would lead to a reduction of GPHA’s container-related businesses from US$105 million to US$30 million with a resultant loss of over 1,400 jobs for GPHA alone, adding that “the 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.”

It said, “Since the operations of the new container terminal would be a semi-automated one, there would not be substantial job creation to absorb the huge job losses for GPHA and other affected companies”.

He expressed the view that the tax waiver for the concession agreement of the container terminal which is over US$800 million was too high when considered against the investment cost of US$ 1.5 billion which has reduced to about US$ 1.1 billion after revaluation.

The council therefore urged the government of Ghana to, as a matter of urgency, renegotiate the concession agreement of the new container terminal of MPS to ensure the protection of national interest, jobs, sustenance of businesses of GPHA, local stevedore companies, existing terminal operators and other local operators.