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22.10.2008 Business & Finance

48 Hours after being dragged to courtGPHA runs amok

By Richard Attenkah, Tema - Ghanaian Chronicle

Barely 48 hours after the Ghana Association of Stevedoring Companies, and six other Ghanaian-owned private stevedoring companies, dragged the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to court, the latter is running amok, issuing directives left and right, compounding the already volatile situation at the Tema Port.

Last Monday, none of the private stevedoring companies, which were party to the suit filed against GPHA somewhere last week, was allowed a quota on the stevedoring operations at the port.

Indications are that if nothing was done immediately by the government or the sector Ministry, to address the problems on the ground, the situation could degenerate into something nasty.

Information received from our sources at the Tema Port, indicates that the Authority, upon directives purported to be coming from 'Above,' has decided to prevent stevedoring companies, which are party to the suit served on the Authority, from taking part in all stevedoring activities at the Port, until the final determination of the case.

According to our information, the normal practice at the Port was that every morning, the berthing allocation committee holds a meeting to name the various stevedoring companies that are scheduled to undertake operations inside the Port.

On Monday October 20, this year, when the committee met to conduct its routine selection of companies for the day's stevedoring operations, the Chairman for the morning, Pilot Smith, who sat in for the regular chairman, Capt. Owusu Koranteng, who incidentally is the Harbour Master, skipped about four companies, which names appeared on the list.

Not satisfied with events unfolding at the meeting, the representative of the Private Stevedoring Companies, Omega Arthur, drew the attention of Pilot Smith to explain why he had side-lined about four or five private companies on the list.

“We gathered that the Chairman hinted the meeting that he had directives from “Above,” to push aside companies that were party to the suit filed against the Authority last Thursday, until the final determination of the case.”

At the time of filing this report, The Chronicle learnt that a high-powered meeting of representatives of the various private stevedoring companies was ongoing.

Even though there was no official report from the meeting, we gathered from our sources that the private companies were likely to issue a 24-hour ultimatum to the GPHA to rescind its decision.

Meanwhile, The Chronicle has received information that the Chairman of the GPHA Local Union of the MDU, Isaac Klu, has been transferred from the Security Department to the Welfare & Pensions Department.

This is contrary to international union regulations, which states that a Union Executive cannot be transferred without the prior notification of the mother union.

It would be recalled that the Ghana Association of Stevedoring Companies (GASCO), and six other Ghanaian-owned private stevedoring companies, had dragged the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to court, for attempting to be an impediment on their right to transact their businesses.