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Akufo-Addo intervenes in Tema Port brouhaha workers call off strike.

The strike action embarked upon by the workers of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) since Tuesday, this week, which affected the discharge of cargo at the Tema Port, has been called off following the intervention of President Akufo-Addo.

The bone of contention was the lack of business activities at both Terminal One and Two, which are being operated by the GPHA, but in a letter dated June 17, 2020, President Akufo-Addo directed the Acting Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to revise its directive to exempt Refrigerated (Reefer) Cargo Containers and permit their transfer from Terminal 3 to the Reefer Yard of GPHA, where duties and taxes will be paid before delivery to consignees.

Consequently, the strike action embarked upon by the GPHA's Marine Operations and Engineering Department, with support from the Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has been called off pending the actualisation of the assurance from Jubilee House.

The President's letter, which was signed on his behalf by Nana Asante Bediatuo, his Executive Secretary, reads: 'The attention of the Office of The President has been drawn to a correspondence dated 14th May 2020, with reference number DG/HQ/C3/V.11/349, from the Director General of the GPHA to the Minister for Transport. A copy of the said correspondence is attached for ease of reference.

'The President has taken note of the content of the letter and has directed that Ghana Revenue Authority revises its directive to exempt refrigerated (Reefer) cargo containers and permit their transfer from Terminal Three to Reefer Yard of GPHA, where duties and taxes will be paid before delivery to consignee.'

The understanding is that on the same day the President's letter was written, the Minister for Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiama, also wrote another letter which he addressed to the Director General of the GPHA, captioned, 'Cabinet Decision On Issues Raised By GPHA Union.'

The Minister's letter states that following the meeting between the Ministry, board, management, and the Union of the GPHA, as well as the leadership of the MDU, held on Tuesday June 16, 2020, the issues raised by the union were presented at the Cabinet meeting held the same day.

The under listed decisions have been taken by Cabinet:

(i) That the Cabinet Secretary write to inform GRA to hand over all Refrigerated Containers to the GPHA before the end of the month.

(ii) That the government position for GPHA to handle 20 percentage of the containerised cargo during the exclusive period of ten (10) years has not changed.

(iii) That the GPHA should go ahead with the leasing of the Marine Harbour cranes to enable them to effectively handle the containers.

I write, therefore, to inform you of the decision of Cabinet on the matter in reference to the MDU letter number MDU/ADMIN.MOT/20/107 dated June 17, 2020, and by a copy of this letter informing them accordingly. Please ensure the smooth operations at the port.

The General Secretary of MDU, Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, when contacted by The Chronicle, stated that due to the assurance from the Presidency they had decided to stop the strike. Immediately, the tugboats were mounted and operations by way of pilotage, towage, and mooring of vessels, be they at the anchorage, or in the docks at Terminals 1, 2 and 3, commenced.

It would be recalled that workers of the GPHA, drawn from Tema and Takoradi, backed by the MDU, embarked on a strike action on Tuesday June 16, 2020, to demand the authority's allocation of 20 percentage of containerised cargo to the Port of Tema, as against 80 percentage for the Meridian Ports Services.

Due to what the mariners alleged as fraud where ballasting takes place in the expected vessels only at the Tema Port anchorage to increase their draft, containerised ships were virtually not positioned at Terminals 1 and 2 which is operated by the GPHA.

Also, the over one million dollars state-of-the-art recently built GPHA Reefer Yard was no longer being patronised, as the refrigerated containers, the authority's cash cow, had gone to MPS, which, though lacks such a facility, resorted to a Plugging Points approach at its terminal.
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Publication:Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra, Ghana)
Date:Jun 25, 2020
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