The Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU) has impressed upon Meridian Port Holdings—majority shareholder of Meridian Port Services—to consider the demand from Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to handle 20 percent of eligible vessels that call at the Tema Port.
As a press conference in Tema, the MDU stated categorically that the GPHA, as a landlord and regulator, should continue to operate as an independent financially viable entity and not a weak organisation that survives on dole-outs from its tenants.
“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 relations.
“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 from negative effects of the project if 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,” read a statement signed by Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, General Secretary of the MDU.
Article 3.7 of the Deed of Amendment (DoA) as contained in the MPS Concession Agreement states that: “During the term [of the agreement], the concessionaire shall have the exclusive right to provide services to any eligible vessel entering the operational area”, where eligible vessel is defined as “any vessel which is a full container vessel or a vessel that is carrying 200 TEUs or more”.
This exclusivity clause prevents other port operators from undertaking container business and gives sole monopoly of the port to MPS.
Currently, the operations of GPHA – which are providing employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of permanent workers, national service personnel, contract staff etc. – are on tenterhooks.
According to the MDU, the MPS has hung onto the argument of having gained the concession agreement through a legal process to inform their strong position to not grant the “modest” request of GPHA.
But the statement of the MDU warned that: “Ghana has messed up many economic opportunities, especially the extractive sector; and we must not add the blue economy to our lost opportunities.
“We expect the shareholders of MPS to take decisions that will make GPHA and other port operators financially strong with the operations of the Terminal 3, and not weaken GPHA financially.”
The dockworkers averred that GPHA, as a state agency, has been a reference point of excellence; and that government owes it as a duty to ensure its continuous improvement in providing economic, social and financial benefits to the nation.
“We expect government to support GPHA to create jobs for our people and generate revenues for government. This is in contrast with the low employment generation by MPS and the repatriation of profits by multinationals to their home countries,” the union argued.
The concession agreement of MPS Terminal 3 has been projected to cause substantial revenues of GPHA across various sections of its business.
For instance, containers that GPHA handles in its receipt and delivery (shore-handling) operations have reduced by at least 60 percent, while containers transferred from MPS to GPHA facilities have also reduced to 32 percent of current volumes.
Volume of containers handled by GPHA (Stevedoring) could decline from 92,539 TEUs to 30 percent of current volumes, while revenues from Stevedore companies will reduce by over 60 percent.
Also, GPHA earned over US$3million from berth occupancy revenue from container operations in 2017, but this revenue line will be lost completely in spite of the expected larger vessels in Terminal 3, among other dire financial consequences.