MPS contract at Tema Harbor to Ghana in raw deal by Bolloré Africa Logistics
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Date: 22nd April 2021
Story by: Norvisi Eyiram Mawunyegah
A Pan-African news magazine Africa Confidential, hasexposed how Bolloré Africa Logistics won the right to build and run the new container port of Temareportedly. The deal,labelled as “lifeline” was “not only for Ghana but for landlocked Burkina Faso and Mali, through their 70% owned joint venture with the Ghana government, Meridian Port Services (MPS).”
“It is a tale of intrigue based on the Westerners’ ‘lack of transparency and ethical discipline’, according to the secret ministerial report drafted by Ghanaian officials,” seen and confirmed from its research by the magazine.
According to Africa Confidential, “The agreement termsbetween MPS and the state aresloping against the country’s interests, given to ministers in February 2018, should be renegotiated immediately. Yet the much-disapproved contracts are still the same.
The French ports-to-media conglomerate partnered by the Danish shipping giant Maersk’s ports arm, APM Terminals, released a state-of-the-art container terminal at the Tema harbor port in July 2019, the Africa Confidential reported. The agency said Ghana’s ministerial investigation and its research show “how the Bolloré groupconvinced former President John Dramani Mahamato award MPS a new container terminal contract in secret, attaching no proposals, in 2014, violating procurement laws;
• overstated the planned investment by a factor of two which won tax holidays worth $832 million from an unwitting parliament;
• Secretly cut Ghana’s equity in MPS to 15% after first agreeing to 30%;
• persuaded the government to allow it a monopoly on handling containers, putting thousands of jobs at other port concerns at risk and driving up prices, and to set tariffs;
• reduced the fees payable to the government over the life of the concession by $4.1 billion.
It said how MPS was operating is “‘gravely detrimental to the government and people of Ghana.’ They do ‘not reflect honest business ethics between parties.’ “According to Africa Confidential, the relation shows ‘serious ethical professional deficiencies’ indicating ‘the engagements have to be carefully and deliberately reviewed’.
The newsletter stated although Akufo-Addo competed Mahama in December 2020’s general election, “the topic of the Tema deal did not come up in campaigning.”
“The two men appeared to observe a pact of silence on this and several other instances of alleged bad governance and corruption. Akufo-Addo narrowly won the election (AC Vol 61 No 25). This is the story of how the deal took shape, and how a fightback within the Transport Ministry and the NPP against the MPS deal was finally quashed, and the legendary ability of Vincent Bolloré to accommodate political change asserted itself,” it added.