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21.09.2005 General News

Gas Project Manager refutes allegations

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Accra, Sept. 21, GNA - Mr Ron Wooten, Project Manager, Horizon Group, an Offshore Contractor for the West African Gas Pipeline Project, on Wednesday refuted allegations that his outfit had refused to employ Ghanaians as part of the work force for the project.

In a telephone interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, he said, "we have a number of Ghanaians working with us and, therefore, the allegation by Rig Workers Association of Ghana that no Ghanaian has been employed is not true."

He said to the best of his knowledge, Rig Workers Association of Ghana was a company and not individuals looking for employment. "We are not employing companies," he said.

When asked for the total number of Ghanaians working on the project so far, he said that was confidential.

He would not comment any further when pressed for even estimates, stressing that it was confidential information.

In a related development, the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAGPCO) office in Ghana said it played its role of directing the Association members to contact the Horizon group, the contractors for employment as soon as the bid was won.

Mr Asante Okai, External Affairs Manager, WAGPCO, who also spoke to the GNA in a telephone interview, said it was unfortunate if the contracting company refused to employ the Rig Association members. He said as far as WAGPCO was concerned there was no breach of contract since the contract agreement of the project stated that majority of the employees were to be West Africans, with only 15 per cent being locals.

He said Ghanaians were solely doing the discharge of pipelines at the Tema Port and that of the concrete coating by Bredero, an export free zone company.

Mr Okai said the whole project specified so much on safety standards and if the contractors refused to take Ghanaians on the barge, then it was the contractor, who should be answerable for that and not WAGPCO. The Rig Workers Association of Ghana at a press conference on Wednesday appealed to the Government to intervene to facilitate the employment of Ghanaians by the Horizon Group, contractors for the West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGPP).

Mr Kwame Nii Ezouame, Administrative Secretary of the Association, and Spokesperson, told the press conference in Accra that the contractors for the project had refused to employ Ghanaians to work on the project with the excuse "we are not qualified as the barges are automated.

"Over 500 Nigerian and 200 Filipinos have been employed to work on the two barges that were engaged in the West African Gas pipeline construction, at the expense of Ghanaian workers," he said. "We demand to know if stewards and cooks, warehousemen, deckhands and radio operators, oilers, painters and carpenters required any special training before working on board the barges?" he queried at the conference attended by a large number of members of the Association from Tema and Takoradi ports.

Mr Ezouame said as an organised group, they were made up of experienced and skilled workers of oil and gas rigs and barges within the West African Sub-Region and wondered why they were not being considered for employment this time round.

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