A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in the Western Region, Nzema Youth for Peace and Development, has pledged support for the construction of Ghana’s third sea port at Atuabo.
The Lonrho Port project is a 650-million-dollar Atuabo Free Port (AFP) project expected to become a West African hub for the logistics, and serve vessels in the oil and gas industry.
The government of Ghana has 45 per cent shares in the project and it will be fully funded by Lonhro and its partners, subject to Parliamentary approval.
Apart from supporting the growth of the oil and gas sector and yielding financial benefits for the state, the project is expected to lead to the speedy development of host communities, particularly Atuabo, whose chiefs have allocated a large track of land for the project.
Notwithstanding the intended benefits, Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Kofi Asamoah, has advised government to rescind its decision to allow Lonrho Ports Ghana Limited to build the Freeport Service Terminal Complex at Atuabo in the Western Region.
According to him, government’s decision to offer the project to Lonrho constitutes a blatant violation of the Ghana Port and Harbours Authority (GPHA) Act 160 of 1986 (PNDC 160), which gives GHPA the sole authority to plan, build, manage, maintain, operate and control ports.
Mr Asamoah made this known at the 2014 May Day celebration in Accra.
He said: “The expansion of the Takoradi Port has a component of an oil and gas service terminal. Therefore, providing exclusivity for the Atuabo Freeport would have the potential of killing the Takoradi Port.”
However, at a press conference in Takoradi, President of the NGO, Abizi Morkeh indicated they are happy with calls on President Mahama by members of the Maritime and Dockworkers Union to ensure that Ghanaians realize the full benefits of the initiative.
The group numbering more than 50 is made up of young and old residents of Atuabo and adjourning communities within the catchment area of the proposed Lonrho project.
They are hopeful that the port project will be beneficial to them.
According to Abizi Morkeh, although PNDC Law 1986, Act 160 section 5(1) mandates the Ghana Ports and Habours Authority to plan, build, manage and develop ports, the same act also makes provision for the head of state to award any entity capable of building ports the permit to do so.
He is of the view that GPHA will continue to play a leading role in the management of the new port.
He added that “even if it requires the amendment of the law to allow Lorhnro to continue with the third project, it should be done since it will provide the youths in the area with jobs.”
Besides, workers of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA registered their support for the Atuabo Free Port project Despite initial concerns.
“We resolve that the unions are not against the development of the Atuabo Free Port, as misunderstood by sections of the public,” they said.
By: Afiba Anyanzua Anyanzu/citifmonline.com/Ghana