General News of 2014-02-25

Security alert at airport; As ‘tweaa’ demo looms

The feud that has engulfed the two (2) Ground Handling Operators and the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) appears to be taking some very serious dimensions, which pose some serious security problems at the Airport, The New Independent has learnt.

This paper has the information that, Clients, which are mostly Airlines of the two (2) ground handling service providers at the Kotoka International Airport, are expressing doubts as to the future prospects of the Kotoka International Airport and are contemplating relocating to other West African destinations if the Minister for Transport does not move in swiftly to resolve the impasse that has dragged on since 2011.

It will be recalled that, sometime in August of 2012, the managements of the Ground Handling Providers notified the Board of Directors of Ghana Airport Company Limited of the change in the operations of Air Ghana, which has since the commencement of its operations at the Air Ghana Perishable Cargo Centre (AGPC) been transporting cargo to the aircraft without using the official Ground Handling Providers (GHP).

Investigations conducted by this paper with some analysts and players in the aviation industry in Ghana have revealed that, sometime in March 2013, the management of Ghana Airport Company Limited in response to concerns raised by the official ground handling providers made some feeble attempts in trying to rationalize the operations of the Air Ghana Perishable Cargo Centre by stating that, the GACL MD had allowed the company to handle non-perishable cargo and to operate on the airside at the Kotoka International Airport without a valid registered license and insurance cover.

The New Independent found out during investigations that, Madam Owusu-Fianko, then GACL MD, in a response to the issues raised by the GHPs indicated that, she had granted approval to a joint venture between Air Ghana and Kenya Freight Wings Company to operate and handle its own cargo, because it was pre-requisite in the management contract of the Kotoka International Perishable Cargo Centre agreement.

Speaking to the General Secretary of the Financial, Business and Services Employees Union, Benjamin Mingle, who is an Executive Board Member of the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), he said, the turn of events at the Kotoka International Airport under the Airport Company are becoming very worrying and send a negative signal to other players in the Aviation Industry that, the situation at the airport is a free for all one.

He wondered how Air Ghana Perishable Cargo Centre would be allowed to handle non- perishable cargo, which was not part of the contract with GACL and to operate as an under wing operator, which is a violation of the agreement reached with the other licensed GHPs that, until the passenger figures reach five million per annum at the Kotoka International Airport, only Two (2) Ground Handling Service Providers would be allowed to operate at the airport due to its capacity and the low aircraft movements of a turn-over of less than eight thousand(8,000) per annum.

Investigations conducted by this paper can confirm that, in accordance with the terms of the Contract No:1401111-1: Contract for Management Services, Concession Agreement: GACL-AGPC, which was signed by Madam Doreen Owusu-Fianko and witnessed by Mr. Kwesi Korboe of the Millennium Development Authority on the 4th April 2012, the management company, Air Ghana, is expected to process only perishable cargo through the Kotoka International Perishable Cargo Centre, a government facility built with finance from the Millennium Development Authority.

The management company (Air Ghana), he said, is required to pay Royalty Fee at a minimum of 15% of Gross Annual Perishable Cargo Revenue over the concession period, and added that, as part of the agreement, Air Ghana Perishable Cargo Centre, is obliged to install an accounting system in which all relevant data is recorded and transmitted via computer system link-up to Ghana Airport Company in order to determine the turn over from all operations for the purposes of determining the Royalties payable to Ghana Airport Company Limited.

“Indeed there is no place in the management contract agreement, which states that, Air Ghana is in a joint venture with Kenya Freight Wings Company to handle the facility and operate as a ground handler at the airport.”

Interestingly, this new facility has been leased out at 8% of the rent which Aviance Ghana pays to the GACL for its facility. This paper wonders how Air Ghana was able to reduce the lease as per the tender by over 75%.

The General Secretary of the Union wondered how the Board of Directors of Ghana Airport Company Limited would allow an officer of a different institution, MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, sign a management contract on behalf of Ghana Airport Company Limited in a bizarre circumstance to allow a foreign entity, Kenya Freight Wings Company, to handle its cargo direct to the aircraft and hand over to the agent to load onto the flight.

He expressed surprise that, all these are done at a low lease and a Free Zone License for an entity that exports none of its own goods but gains huge tax concessions from Government of Ghana.

According to some experts, the mandated security procedures regulating exports at the Airport required that, all cargo for export be delivered to a Ground Handling Service Provider for clearance at a nominated scanner located at the Airport, but strangely enough, due to this alliance between Ghana Airport Company Limited and Air Ghana Perishable Cargo Centre, perishable cargo are delivered by D.H.L. processed and sent directly to the aircraft without the involvement of either a ground handling operator or a nominated scanner.

He told The New Independent that, said, “the confusion that has engulfed the operations of the Ground Handling Service Providers at the Kotoka International Airport is threat to the job security of the workers of the two companies and it is our determination to resist any machinations by some selfish public officials.”

Meanwhile, there is credible information that, the union leaderships of the two companies at the local level are considering a massive TWEAAA demonstration to draw government’s attention to situation at the airport.

Source: The New Independent
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