Some of the workers expressing their displeasure
AGGRIEVED GHANAIANS working for China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Ghana Limited – the firm undertaking construction work on the Tema Port Expansion Project – have laid down their tools in protest against poor working conditions.
According to them, several petitions to the management for improved working conditions had fallen on deaf ears.
They stated that management of CHEC had frustrated any move by them towards unionization.
The aggrieved workers, in a peaceful demonstration, called on the government to intervene on their behalf regarding their maltreatment and the hazardous condition in which they work.
The worried workers say they were out-sourced through an employment agency called L’aine Services Limited, but after working for months, the company had failed to pay them what they had negotiated albeit the high risk involved in their job.
Although they claim they are working under hazardous conditions, some of the workers say they take as low as GH¢200 as basic salary “on table top” whiles their Chinese counterparts are paid huge sums of money through the bank.
Unhappy with their current situation, the workers Thursday morning laid down their tools to demonstrate against the management.
Their leader, Sylvester Adiamah, explained that “Although there is means of transport for us the workers, our salary is meager. There is no canteen for us the Ghanaian workers and whenever we complaint they end up sacking you.”
According to him, they would not resume work until they had seen improved condition of service.
Mr Sylvester Adiamah declared, “We are expecting response from government and management of the company immediately else I swear we will not work.”
An attempt by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Daniel Kwartei Titus-Glover, to calm the workers did not yield any result as they were resolute in their protest.
However, the minister promised to engage the management of the company on the concerns of the workers to ensure the prevalence of peace.
The first phase of the $1.5 billion of the Tema Port Expansion project started in June last year and it is expected to be completed in about three years.
The port is expected to handle thrice its current traffic of about one million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) when completed.
As part of the project, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) intends to reclaim about 120 hectares of land to become efficient up to about 2040 to 2050 after the expansion works.
The GPHA and Meridian Ports Services signed the $1.5 billion agreement in June last year to enhance the efficiency of the port and make it more competitive. The project is expected to provide employment for more than 3,000 Ghanaians.
The project, the first of its magnitude since the port’s construction in 1962, includes a new 1.4-kilometre quay for four container berths with 16-metre draft and a 3.85-km breakwater within a dredged port access channel, 19 metres deep and 250 metres wide to accommodate larger vessels. The project will also come with a railway terminal for the movement of containers by rail to and from the port.
Added to the project is the expansion of the Accra-Tema Motorway into a six-lane expressway with service lanes on either side to accommodate the traffic that will come along with the expansion of the port.
Phases two, three and four of the expansion works will add more container terminals and food/fruit terminals to the cluster, while the final phase will involve the construction of an oil and gas terminal and oil-rig servicing facility to target the burgeoning oil industry along the West African coast.
From Vincent Kubi, Tema