The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) is hoping to reach an agreement by the end of the first quarter with private concessionaire Meridian Port Services (MPS) to handle 20 percent of containerised cargo at the Tema Port.
Speaking at a staff durbar in Tema, the director-general of the port authority, Michael Luguje, said: “Our hope is that we initiate the discussions by a letter, expecting MPS to be forthcoming with us getting the agreement. Then by the close of March we should be able to have the agreement.”
The concessionaire agreement that birthed the construction of the MPS Terminal 3 at the Tema Port gave the private operator [MPS] the monopoly to handle all containerised cargo at its new terminal.
To sustain the operations and workforce of the nation’s port operator, however, the authority has been pushing MPS to cede 20 percent of containerised cargo to it, a demand that has been backed by other stakeholders including the Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU).
At a crunch meeting in Dubai in November 2019, MPS agreed to the demand of GPHA, but the latter is yet to access and handle that percentage of containerised cargo.
Mr. Luguje admitted that their demand from the private concessionaire was one that required patience and prudence due to the unique dynamics of the concession agreement.
According to him, while pursuing the agreement to allow GPHA handle 20 percent of containerised cargo, the authority was able to handle between 10 to 12 percent of cargo in the latter end of last year.
“We have travelled a long journey. We had to engage shipping lines to insist that we have to start to implement that 20 percent while we wait for a signed agreement. It wasn’t an easy one. But thanks to management and staff, we worked together to ensure that at least we managed 10-12 percent of that volume up to close of year 2020,” he said.
The GPHA boss recounted the unified efforts of the staff, union and management in persistently making their case to government to review the MPS Terminal 3 contract.
Michael Luguje also explained the social benefits of the hybrid system of operations that the GPHA is currently operating, as opposed to the sole landlord port authority system of operations.
“We have been able to showcase the advantages of the hybrid system, its impact on the liquidity system and our ability to provide the social requirement of government, which is to create jobs.”