The decision by government to lease out Tema Shipyard to Tullow Oil Ghana  before the completion of the takeover process by the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority (GPHA) has been described as unfortunate and a U-turn to address management problems of the Shipyard.

The Tema District Council of the Maritime and Dockworkers? Union (MDU) said the decision constitutes a piece-meal approach that cannot solve the long-term problems of the PSC Tema Shipyard.

The TEMA MDU said it has cause to worry about official reasons provided on the Tullow issue, because it means cutting the PSC Tema Shipyard to pieces before implementing the Chris Ackumey Committee?s recommendation of a GPHA takeover and management of Tema Shipyard — which was the vision of Dr. Nkrumah.

?The potential of PSC Tema Shipyard is beyond the fabrication of parts for the building of a new FPSO for Tullow Ghana,? the Tema MDU retorted.

These concerns were highlighted at a press conference organised by the MDU at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) headquarters in Accra yesterday.

Giving background to the issue, the Tema MDU noted that in 2009 government instituted a Committee of Inquiry chaired by Chris Ackumey to investigate the factors militating against smooth operation of the PSC Tema Shipyard and make recommendations.

The Chris Ackumey Committee indicted the Malaysian administration for breaches of the Share and Purchase Agreement and the Joint Venture Agreement — especially the disposal of shares belonging to Penang shipbuilding and Construction to Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation in 2007 without reference to government, which was a minority shareholder.

Some of the recommendations of the Committee include the view of workers at the shipyard that the GPHA should take over running and management of the Shipyard.  The Union went on to say that on the basis of the Ackumey Committee the government made arrangements for returning the ownership of the Shipyard to the Republic, and that the entire 60% shares buy-back was concluded on June 27, 2012 with the payment of US$6.36million to Penang.

The MDU is saying that despite the recommendation of the Committee, no serious decision has been taken by government for the full potential of the PSC Tema Shipyard since the company became fully owned by a Ghanaian company over a year now.

The PSC Tema Shipyard does not have a Board, and the CEO, Mr. Kugblenu, was also a Vice Chairman of the Ackumey Committee yet he endorses the Tullow move — and the Union sees the U-turn as strange.

The Union has therefore made the following demands: Immediate withdrawal of Tullow Ghana employees from the Shipyard; replacement of the CEO Mr. Kugblenu, to be replaced by the person nominated by GPHA; government must implement the Ackumey Committee recommendations; and government should provide the opportunity for GPHA to present its proposals for revamping the Shipyard into a modern shipbuilding and repairs company.

Essentially, the Union is accusing government of taking a unilateral decision with regard to the Tullow/PSC Shipyard issue.

By Konrad K. Djaisi

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