The Director General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, GPHA, Michael Luguje, has confirmed that about 1,200 employees of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) would be laid off after the operationalization of the Meridian Port Services (MPS) project later this year, 2019.
Mr. Luguje, told Bernard Avle on The Point of View on Citi TV that the workers will no longer be needed adding that the ICDs had been served notice in that regard.
He said, “we licensed them [ICDs] just for 2019 because past 2019, we wouldn’t need to transfer boxes to them.”
The ICD’s used to be essential because of congestion at the port “before container terminals came into being; before MPS terminal too came into being.”
Once the waterfront space wasn’t sufficient, the authority encouraged private sector initiatives, Michael Luguje recalled.
“If you have any land of the waterfront, you could develop it and come and we will license you so that part of the containers that cannot go into the existing container facility can go into your facility and in doing so, you earn some revenue. But with the coming into being of this new terminal which is going to have excess capacity to carry all space, inland containment depots will have no consignments,” he noted.
President John Mahama launched the start of the expansion works at Tema Port in 2016.
The project is a public-private partnership between the GPHA, representing the Government of Ghana and MPS for an upgrade and significant expansion of Ghana’s main seaport.
The port is expected to be the largest cargo port in West Africa, and one of the best in Africa, with a capacity of 3.5 million 20-foot equivalent unit (TEU) per annum.
An inter-ministerial review committee was set up by the Akufo-Addo government in January 2018, headed by a Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Daniel Titus-Glover, to assess the proposals submitted by the GPHA for the review of the 35-year concession agreement.
The Daily Graphic reported earlier that the committee presented its recommendations to the government in February 2018, and a White Paper is yet to be issued on the recommendations.
But Mr Titus-Glover according to the newspaper said the committee recommended a review of the entire work done because it was not in the interest of the GPHA and the country.
“This was an amended agreement signed under the previous government, it is a bad deal for the port and the entire country and our hope is that we can correct the wrongs,” he said.
The deed of the amendment, according to Daily Graphic, grants the MPS the exclusive right to handle eligible vessels such as full container vessels carrying 200 twenty equivalent units (TEUs) or more, a situation many industry players claim had priced Ghana out of the arrangements.
Similarly, provisions in the agreement give MPS the right to charge and retain all payments made in respect of vessel dues, as well as berth occupancy charges.
The agreement further grants MPS the right to charge and retain port dues until discharge date of all the concessionaire’s obligations under the financing agreements, as confirmed by the lenders.
“As such, 90 per cent of the dues retention goes to MPS, while the GPHA has a 10 per cent stake from year one to the 10th year,” it states.