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GPHA assures of 20% container business from August 1, 2022

BY: Della Russel Ocloo
Michael Luguje holding the paper he said was the letter from MPS while addressing the workers. Picture:  DELLA RUSSEL OCLOO
Michael Luguje holding the paper he said was the letter from MPS while addressing the workers. Picture: DELLA RUSSEL OCLOO

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) will begin handling 20 per cent of all container cargoes arriving at the Tema Port from next month.

This is in line with a business retention agreement the government reached with the Meridian Port Service (MPS), operators of the Terminal Three port facility.

It followed what officials said was the signing of a letter of intent ahead of the signing of the operational agreement between the two entities.

The Director-General of GPHA, Michael Luguje, who informed striking workers of the GPHA at the Tema Port yesterday expressed regret that the strike, which went beyond 24 hours, had badly affected the authority’s business, thereby interrupting international trade emerging and terminating in the country.

“We have gone beyond the 24 hours mark leaving vessels that are to depart and dock stranded, leaving Ghana’s name in the international shipping press for the wrong reasons as a result of the strike, disrupting all the shipping schedules that vessels have,” Mr Luguje lamented.

“We have to be reasonable and open the port to international trade while we prepare for August 1, 2022,” Mr Luguje appealed.

Vessels stranded

The workers union last Tuesday embarked on a sit-down strike which grounded the movement of vessels from anchorage to the various receiving terminals at the Port.

The agitations stemmed from what the unions said were the failure of the management to ensure that the 20 per cent container retention agreement between it and the MPS was implemented, two years after the two parties agreed to the percentage.

The action saw vessels namely, Voileta B, Nikolas, Maersk Cunene MSC Trieste and Zim Pacific remain in anchorage as at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, thus leaving many traders who had consignments aboard the above-named vessels stranded when they showed up at the various holding terminals to clear their cargos.

Signed letter

Mr Luguje who was at the Marine Block inside the port and holding a piece of paper which he claimed was the signed letter with the MPS appealed to the workers to call off the strike.

The Daily Graphic has, however, learnt that the said letter communicated the MPS’s decision to grant the container retention to the GPHA for a two-year period after which the partners would revert to the original agreement which granted the MPS exclusive rights as the financier and developer of the terminal three facilities to handle container vessels, carrying 200 Twenty Equivalent Units (TEUs) or more.

Mr Luguje, on the other hand, told the workers that by the letter, containerised vessels calling at the port would be apportioned for GPHA to handle 20 per cent.

Goodwill

Based on the letter we have in our possession, “our plea is that, you should call off the strike and go back to your respective work stations and begin to allow vessels to come in,” the Director-General appealed, to loud jeers from the workers who chanted that they would extend the strike to August 1, 2022, until they saw the agreement implemented.

The Chairman of the Junior Staff Union, Emmanuel Arhin Young, speaking to the media, said the letter they saw did not reflect their demands and they were determined to go the full haul.