Professor Ivan Addae-Mensah, Chairman of the Ghana National Petroleum Authority, on Friday called on the Government as a matter of urgency to remove the Bonsa Tyre Factory at Bonsa near Tarkwa, in the Western Region, from the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) list.
He said the continual maintenance of the factory on the DIC list since 1999 had not brought any economic benefits to the country while no investor had taken over the facility.
Prof. Addai-Mensah said these at a symposium organized by the Western Regional Coordinating Council as part of activities to mark Ghana's Golden Jubilee, in Takoradi.
It was on the theme "Strategic importance of the Western Region to the Socio-economic Development of Post-independence Ghana". Prof. Addai-Mensah said government must not allow "legalities" to deprive the factory from being reactivated to create employment. He said though rehabilitation works on the factory was 95 percent complete, the inability of government to release 2.4 million US Dollars seven years ago had left the facility standing idle, with many of its "new equipment still in their boxes".
Prof. Addai-Mensah said an agreement between government of Ghana and the African Development Bank (ADB) for a loan of 30.7 million US Dollars was approved.
He said Dunlop of Birmingham were contacted to work with their Ghanaian counterparts to rehabilitate the factory and the Government of Ghana paid 3.019 million US Dollars leaving a balance of 2.431 million US dollars.
Prof. Addai-Mensah said the ADB, realising that government was not ready to pay its outstanding matching fund of 2.431 million US Dollars, wrote to the Ministry of Finance on September 3, 1999 to cancel all loans approved and released for the project.
He said the factory would have produced about 300,000 tyres per year, representing 25 per cent of the country's annual requirements. Prof. Addai-Mensah stressed, "There is therefore, no reason for anyone to say that there would be no internal market for the factory's products."
He also said the factory had plans to export small rubber products such as bushings, adhesives, floor tiles, engine seats, motorcycle tyres to Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, in the West African Sub-region.
Prof. Addai-Mensah said the factory would not have lacked raw materials since large rubber plantations were cultivated while out-growers were also encouraged to venture into rubber plantations. He noted that if the factory was re-activated it could have directly generated 500 jobs, recruited the requisite technicians, engineers, tappers and labourers.
Prof. Addai-Mensah also said over 450 displaced workers and their families would have had new hope while plantations would have been expanded to entice more tyre dealers and the re-activation of the re-threading business.
He said since June 2000, the factory's skeletal staff of 33 engineers and mechanics, had been reduced to less than 10 personnel. Prof. Addai-Mensah appealed to government to pay severance and redundancy allowance of about 8.7 billion cedis to the redundant staff of Bonsa Tyre.
He suggested that the Takoradi Harbour should be rehabilitated and expanded to enable it to handle increased export commodities and reduce the pressure on the Tema Port.
Prof. Addai-Mensah suggested the deepening of waterways of the Takoradi harbour to ensure the operations of larger container vessels and to rejuvenate the Export Free Zone (EFZ) enclave while the Aboadze Thermal Plant would assist improve industrialisation to create more jobs.
The Very Reverend Ama Afo Blay, former Director General of the Ghana education Service, said centers of excellence should be established in the region where children could seek guidance and counseling to improve the standards of education in the region. She advised the people of the region to initiate development programmes and to promote education and rise internally generated funds without relying on external sources for development. Rev. Blay also asked the people to be guided by moral values, integrity, laws and to respect the rights of other citizens.