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30.01.2006 Business & Finance

Minister Killing Local Industry?

By Public Agenda
Minister Killing Local Industry?

…2000 tri-cycles to be imported at $800 each .... while local ones cost $200 The Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD), Mr. Charles Bintim is on a collision course with a local manufacturing firm over a foreign deal. He has opted to import over 2000 tri-cycles from China for waste management purposes, when indeed; a Kumasi-based local firm, Ahaman Enterprises Limited, produces the same product locally. What is worse is that the tri-cycles, which Mr. Bintim has ordered to be imported, are more expensive and of inferior quality than what is produced locally.

According to the Technical Manager of Ahaman Enterprises Limited, Mr. Alex Akurgo, while the 'small size' of the Chinese tricycle costs $215 and that of the big size costs between $500 and $800, the 'big size' of the Ghanaian produced tri-cycle costs $200.

Thus if Ghana opts to import 2000 pieces of the 'small size' tri-cycles, as Mr. Bintim is pushing, she would have spent a whopping sum of $430,000. If Mr. Bintim also succeeds in importing 2000 pieces of the big size tri-cycles, the equation changes for the worse, a whopping sum of $1.6 million would have gone to the Chinese.

Ghana however would have saved $1.2 million if the tri-cycles were purchased locally. Besides, the money would have gone to a local firm, a Ghanaian. It would have assisted the Ghanaian to build capacity and compete globally. And it is not as if the local firm does not have the capacity to supply Mr. Charles Bintim with the adequate quantity of the tri-cycles the country needs. Mr. Akurugu has disclosed that this outfit is capable of manufacturing the 2,000 tricycles the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development intends to import from China.

“We would like you to know that the 2000 tricycles the Minister wants to bring all the way from China can be produced here in Ghana with ease. Why should government import tricycles from China when these same things can be made in Ghana in a similar or even better quality”? he asked at press conference organised in Accra to register the Enterprises' displeasure about the intended importation of 2,000 tricycles by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

He revealed that tricycles imported into the country from China by the NDC government for the Ministry of Agriculture could not be used and are presently rusting away at the Agric Engineering yard at El-wak. He therefore appealed to the ministry to re-examine the issue, stating, “Ahaman Enterprises is capable of manufacturing tricycles specifically for the clearance of waste from our cities, towns and villages.”

“We believe that if the Minister had been a little bit cautious, he would have tabled a public tender for Ghanaian companies that are capable of supplying the same number of tricycles in the specific period to prove their worth and we would not be losing so much money to a foreign nation.”

According to Mr. Akurugu, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development was aware of the existence of their company. He disclosed that plans were far advance between Ahaman Enterprises Limited and the Waste Management Department (WMD) of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to supply them with their tricycles.

He stated that the result of his company's collaboration with the Waste Management Department (WMD) of the AMA led to a design that addressed the specific needs of the WMD. The WMD had requested that an 18-speed tricycle with a galvanized bottom plate flanked by 8mm aluminum sheets and galvanized wire mesh be produced for them and this was supplied by his company. The WMD has over the year's battle with corrosion on the push trucks they used and so the galvanized steel and aluminum solved the problem.

“The AMA subsequently bought one for their engineers to evaluate the product and issued a technical report. They were confident that our tricycles were tough enough and they envisaged ordering many for the sub-metros to use in community garbage clearance,' he noted.

“The government does not seem to be interested in developing infant growing companies, what should local industries do with their designs and products if government continues to import the same products from China”, he asked. The press conference was also to respond to a publication in the Daily Graphic of Saturday, January 21, 2006, where the minister was quoted as confirming that his ministry was in the process of importing 1,000 tricycles into the country by the end of January this year to enhance waste collection from the major cities.

In the report, the minister further disclosed that another set of 1,000 tricycles will arrive in the country later this year and that these were going to be allocated to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly to be used in clearing garbage from the two cities. Mr. Akurgo however disclosed that as at January 20, 2006, a day before the minister made the announcement, the WMD of the AMA met to discuss issuing a “Technical Report on a final two week rigorous test of their tricycle called the Cargo Bike,” and “they had hinted that the first order would be made the following week.

“Many people can testify that they have seen our Cargo Bikes on some streets of Accra, Nima and Madina either transporting plastic waste, or doing others jobs.” He disclosed also that several efforts made by his enterprises to contact the minister to discuss on this matter proved futile.