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15.06.2005 Business & Finance

GASCO denies invitation to formation of Consortium


Tema, June 15, GNA - The Ghana Association of Stevedoring Companies (CASCO) on Tuesday denied ever being invited to form a consortium of maritime organisations to manage the Container Terminal Project at the Tema Port.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview on Tuesday, Ms Josephine Nkrumah, Executive Secretary of the GASCO, said at no time did the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) or any maritime organisation invite the GASCO to discuss the formation of the consortium.

On June 6 Mr Ben Owusu-Mensah, the Director General of the GPHA, alleged at a press conference that in 2003 all shipping lines and stevedoring companies operating in the port were invited to join the consortium but most of them did not see the need for it. He said now that there were indications the consortium would be successful some foreign shipping lines operating in the country were sabotaging it.

Ms Nkrumah said after hearing of the consortium for the first time in 2002, GASCO became alarmed and showed interest through a series of correspondence to the Ministry of Ports, Harbours and Railways and the GPHA to be part of the consortium.

''GASCO wanted more information such as knowing the business plan of the consortium but there was no response from any quarters.'' She said in August 2004 Mr Owusu-Mensah wrote to GASCO, informing it that the GPHA was negotiating with some companies about a shareholders' agreement for ownership.

Ms Nkrumah produced a letter that expressed GPHA's preparedness to off-load some of its share to GASCO and requested a draft of GASCO's shareholders' agreement for 200 million dollars' investment and how it was going to fund its shares.

The letter stated in part that "the Authority may be in a position to arrange 10 percent of the total shares to GASCO which will mean the association will have to make available to the consortium its share of the estimated 81 million dollars which comes to 8.1 million dollars". She said after fruitless efforts to hear from both the sector ministry and the GPHA, GASCO petitioned the Board of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) about its plight and to impress upon the two institutions to implement its (GMA) report on the formation of the consortium.

"We have been waiting until we heard the allegation from the GPHA Director General," Ms Nkrumah said. DK