The umbrella union of workers at Intercity STC Coaches Limited (STC), comprising both senior and junior staff, have resolved that their members should lend part of their salaries for July and August 2015 to the company towards the purchase of four Mercedes Benz buses from Germany.
By the resolution, about 450 workers on the company’s payroll, including management staff who also support the idea, will lend 50 per cent of their salaries for the two months to raise about 56,000 euros.
The company will top up the amount through internally generated funds to raise 112,000 euros which is the initial deposit being demanded by the supplier for the four buses worth almost 3000,000 euros.
The decision was reached at a worker’s durbar called by the union last Wednesday.
According to the Chairman of the Senior Staff Union, Samuel Korley Clottey, the decision stems from the urgent need to augment the current fleet of mostly old buses in order to sustain coach service operations.
He explained that the gesture is also to lend support to management which, through prudent use of resources, has managed to purchase three Neoplan Youngman buses from Jordan which are expected to arrive in the country next month.
Mr Clottey said for some time now, ISTC’s coach services operation had depended on only 13 buses, four of which belonged to alliance partners.
The union leader noted that for management to have been able to keep the company thriving on such a small fleet, without defaulting in paying workers’ salaries; and still be able to raise the deposit for the first three buses, the workers deemed it appropriate to support efforts to revive the company.
Allaying fears that the deal for Scania buses might have collapsed, the Acting Head of Finance of the company, Richard Hotor, assured the workers that with Parliament having approved the loan, the buses would be shopped once the documentation process was completed.
Despite its handicap with fleet size, ISTC manages to operate all its international services on schedule. These are daily services between Accra-Abidjan, three times weekly services between Abidjan-Cotonou, Abidjan-Lome and Accra-Ouagadougou.
There is also a weekly service between Abidjan and Zabre in Burkina Faso, in addition to a small local fleet.
Lately, coach operations have been supported with three mid-size Toyota Coaster buses. They were recently procured through a loan from SIC Life Financial Trust Limited which also saw the company taking delivery of six Toyota Hiace mini buses.
ISTC is expecting two more Coaster and four Hiace buses to be delivered by the supplier, Focus Four Limited, under the SIC Life Loan deal.
Towards the end of 2013, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the majority shareholder in ISTC, decided to offload its share in the company as it was insolvent.
The Government, being the minority shareholder, blocked the move and in early 2014 appointed a new Board of Directors as well as a Managing Director, Samuel Nuamah Donkor, backed by a promise to secure a loan for the company to procure 50 coaches.
Since assuming office, the new Board and the Managing Director have explored various avenues that have enabled ISTC pay its workers from its own resources and stay in business while awaiting the 50 Scania buses from Brazil.
Source: Graphic Online