Business News of 2014-05-17

'We want to partner Lonrho in Atuabo free port project'

The Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has said the Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA) has expressed its readiness to partner LONHRO PC, a British Company in the development and management of a free port project at Atuabo in the Ellembele District of the Western Region.
“Government must consider a joint venture by the GPHA in the development of the Atuabo Free Port, instead it would be selling our birthright to a foreign company,” Mr Issac Klu, Chairman of the Tema branch of the MDU stated.
Addressing a press conference held in Takoradi, Mr Klu claimed that the GPHA is not against the foreign company taking up the port project, but this “must be executed in partnership with the GPHA to ensure that the public interest is upheld”.
Flanked by executive members from Tema and Takoradi, he noted that since the PNDC Law 160 of 1986 gives the mandate to the GPHA as the sole entity to build, manage, control and maintain ports in Ghana, it must be actively involved by partnering in the development and management of the Atuabo Port.
“The union agrees to the port, but does not accept LONRHO as the developer”, he said, and called for clarification on the “exclusivity clause ” in the agreement to the foreign company, and rather give way for competition that would ensure prosperity of the Takoradi Port.
According to the MDU chairman, it would be very dangerous for a free port like the Atuabo one, to be left in the hands of a foreign private investor, without the GPHA, which has the mandate to handle port matters. Later at another conference, the Nzema Youth For Peace and Development (NYPD) lauded the MDU for the GPHA’s support for the project.
Mr Abizi Morkeh, President of the NYPD noted that the port project would boost socio-economic activities, and open up the area to both the local commercial centres and the international markets.
He noted that the oil/gas business has deprived the people of their main livelihoods, being fishing and farming; therefore the port which would become a regional hub for support services in the West Africa sub-region, would create job avenues for the youth.
They would ensure that the youth acquire skills in vital areas to make them employable in the sector. Reacting to the MDU’s argument that the GPHA was the sole entity to handle port issues, Mr Morkeh said sections of the PNDC Law 160 of 1986 also stipulate that the President also has the prerogative to allow investors in port management.
According to Mr Morkeh, the NYPD has confidence in LONRHO that it would provide their socio-economic needs in the area as they were in consultation with the investors who have assured them of cooperate social responsibility.
“The investors have begun paying their widow's mite to deprived communities in the Ellembele district, by upgrading some clinics, building ante-natal ward at the Eikwe hospital, among others.”
He was optimistic that the foreign investors would operate in accordance with the rules and regulations, without which government would not have agreed to their involvement. The NYPD appealed to Parliament to deliberate on the issue expeditiously, to enable the project take off as planned.
The Atuabo Free Port project is expected to offer services in the Oil and Gas industry. The press conference was attended by a large group of people, including the elders, youth, women and the aged.