Workers of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) yesterday blocked access to the Tema Port in protest against alleged attempts by the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to direct Meridian Ports Services (MPS) to retain refrigerated imports at the new port.
The action comes in the wake of similar protests ever since the agreement on the port expansion project was signed with MPS.
Originally, the case of the workers was that there were some unfavourable clauses that would lead to loss of direct and indirect jobs and that some clauses in the agreement disallowed the GPHA from handling vessels carrying more than 200 containers, which would result in low business, as any ship loaded with those containers would go to the new Terminal 3 where the MPS would be operating.
But MPS assured the workers and the country at large that the project would rather lead to the creation of more job opportunities and boost the economy.
It is, therefore, a worry to the Daily Graphic that after the commencement of operations at the terminal, GPHA workers are still embarking on protests, with new allegations, contrary to what they claim to be a communique from the Presidency to the workers union that indicated that the execution of the concession agreement was to be temporarily suspended until issues relating to job losses were addressed.
The Daily Graphic may agree with the workers that there could be job losses, but we also learn that if any jobs will be lost at all, the new openings will be able to absorb those who may be laid off.
However, we think the authorities should engage the workers and assuage their fears for them to appreciate the fact that the project may, after all, be to their benefit as well.
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Many laudable projects have been met with opposition because of the fear of the unknown and inadequate information for those who oppose them. It is, therefore, necessary that the workers be given all the necessary information relating to the project.
We know the natural human instinct to protect one's interests, which may lead to the withholding of certain information. But we think sharing information, in this case, will cause little or no harm and we add our voice to that of the workers that the government include the union in any renegotiation arrangements with the MPS. Such a decision has the advantage of making the workers own the outcome of the discussions and better appreciate the issues, which will go a long way to bring finality to the impasse.
We know that a settlement can be reached, as we recall the assurance given a few weeks ago by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that there would not be job losses at the GPHA as a result of the MPS concession agreement, after he had listened to the concerns raised by the workers of GPHA and met with the stakeholders of MPS.
We reason that there should be goodwill on all sides so that the issue will be resolved amicably for the general good of Ghana. It is not in our interest for business to suffer, as happened yesterday when port users who turned up at the entrance of the main port for business between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. were forced to return as a result of the blockade.