Regional News of 2014-06-11

Plight of Zoomlion workers worsens - Report

More than a year since Joy News investigations revealed the deplorable plight of Zoomlion workers under the Youth and Sanitation Module of Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), their living conditions have not seen any improvement.

Meanwhile, Zoomlion Ghana Limited, the company implementing the module receives over GH¢180 million annual management fees.

Last year, Joy News’ comprehensive investigations which uncovered massive corruption within GYEEDA, also revealed the deplorable plight of the Youth in Sanitation workers.

The Youth in Sanitation Module is run in partnership with Zoomlion Ghana Limited. The Zoomlion contract is the only GYEEDA contract which was not cancelled after the revelations of questionable contracts, but nothing was done to improve the condition of the workers.

In the Central Business District of Accra, agitated workers of GYEEDA’s youth in sanitation module last week told Joy News’ Manasseh Azure Awuni, about their working conditions as they battled piles of refuse.

“We are now tired of complaining,” Nii Ayitey, a 38-year old man who clears refuse at the Merchant Bank area said. “All appeals for increment in our salary have failed. We still take GH¢100 a month and that doesn’t even come regularly. We have not been paid for the past five months.”

In March 2011, Youth and Sports Minister, Clement Kofi Humado, signed a contract with waste Management company, Zoomlion Ghana Limited, to run the youth in sanitation module. Zoomlion was paid GH¢350 per beneficiary per month.

Each beneficiary was paid GH¢50 while the GH¢300 went to Zoomlion as management fees.

In November that year, the fees for the module were reviewed. Under the new terms, Zoomlion was paid GH¢500 per beneficiary out of which GH¢100 went to the beneficiary while GH¢400 was paid to Zoomlion as management fees.

Communications Director of Zoomlion, Robert Coleman justified why the company charged the management fees. He said Zoomlion provided equipment for the sanitation workers.

Joy News investigation however revealed that the company did not provide the equipment it claimed. Nii Ayitey, said his gloves, tricycle, reflector and other equipment were given to him last year even though Zoomlion charges for the supply of such equipment monthly.

Last year, the Ministerial Committee on GYEEDA recommended the cancellation of GYEEDA’s contract with Zoomlion because the contract did not have value for money. The committee also found out that Zoomlion was making “windfall profit” from the contract but failed to provide some services for which it charged so much as management fees.

The contract was not cancelled and the terms have not been reviewed to favour the workers. They continue to receive 100 cedis as monthly salaries.

Government has explained it did not cancel the contract with Zoomlion because of the essential nature of the sanitation module. But the district assemblies have told Joy News they are capable of managing the sanitation workers.

The Ashiedu Keteke Sub-Metro Cleansing Officer, Joseph Nartey told Joy News his outfit is capable of managing all the sanitation workers. He said the Ashiedu Keteke Sub-metro of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), which cleans the Central Business District of Accra, has about 520 sanitation workers.

The AMA, he said, manages 320 sanitation workers while Zoomlion manages about 200. Thirty-One year old Lantei Lamptey, one of those who are managed by the AMA says he is paid GH¢240 in addition to social security and other benefits. He said his salary comes regularly.

Joseph Nartey told Joy News that those who are on the Controller and Accountant General’s payroll and have worked for a long time receive up to GH¢400 a month.

But that is not the same for workers who are managed by Zoomlion.

The workers say due to the rising cost of living, their plight worsens with the GH¢100 they receive a month.

Both the AMA and Zoomlion sanitation workers do the cleaning together and undertake similar duties, but those who are paid directly by the AMA receive twice or trice or more than those paid through Zoomlion.

The money paid to the Zoomlion also comes from the assembly because it is deducted from the District Assemblies Common Fund on behalf of all districts in the country.

There are currently 37,700 workers under the Youth in Sanitation Module of GYEEDA. Letters written to the Administrator of District Administrator Common Fund by Youth and Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie Ankra, and intercepted by Joy News indicate, government pays more than GH¢15 million to Zoomlion as management fees every month. In a year, the company receives over GH¢180 million Ghana cedis as management fees.

If the district assemblies were made to manage the sanitation workers and increase their salaries to GH¢300, the nation would still save over GH¢90 million annually.

But for reasons that cannot be explained, it doesn’t appear the Zoomlion contract will be cancelled anytime soon.