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Opinions of Thursday, 29 August 2013

Columnist: Dekportor, Mensah

PSC Tema Shipyard / Tullow Agitations

- The way forward.

The recent decision by the Ministries of Transport and Energy and Tullow oil to enter into an agreement to facilitate the manufacture of certain components of Tullow’s (Floating Production Storage and Offloading Vessel) FPSO at PSC Tema shipyard for Ghana’s oil industry should have come as welcome news to Ghanaians. The Agreement is a good example of ensuring that where possible jobs are created locally from of our oil industry for the benefit of Ghanaians.
It is therefore strange that this laudable venture is facing resistance from union leaders and GHAPOHA executives who apparently would prefer PSC Tema Shipyard to remain in its current state in pursuance of their parochial interests as opposed to seeing the benefits that the project potentially generates for overall regeneration of the shipyard.
Tullow oil and the Ministries of Energy and Transport have clearly indicated that the sole objective of this project is to ensure a refitting of PSC Tema Shipyard to enable components of Tullow’s FPSO to be built in Ghana in compliance with new local content requirements of Ghana’s oil industry. The investments and improvements in the shipyard as a result of this project are going to permanently benefit the shipyard and create an estimated 600 local jobs.
The project itself is for the duration of the construction of the FPSO and is not intended as a permanent takeover of the shipyard as is being misrepresented by the union leaders and executives of GHAPOHA.
It should be obvious that whatever improvements to the shipyard and technology transfer that is generated out of this project would lead to a revival of the Shipyard going forward. All that union leaders and GHAPOHA executives need to do is ensure that any agreements covering the project are executed by the relevant parties (PSC Tema Shipyard and Tullow oil) instead of agitating to kill the project for their parochial interests.
The TUC Secretary General has also joined the band wagon of those opposing the project without fully examining the prospects of the project for the nation. It appears the TUC General Secretary has a narrow perception of what his role as union leader should be in Ghana. Should his role be to constantly oppose Government policies for the sake of opposition? How else can one explain why a union leader would not be interested in a project that creates employment and transfers technology for the benefit of Ghanaian workers?
The era has come when union leadership should not only be about mobilizing workers for strikes and protests. Ghana needs union leaders who are creative and forward thinking for the benefit of workers and the nation as a whole. How much of broad worker consultation does the TUC leader engage in before taking positions on national issues? How much of internal stewardship accountability does he engage in within his organization? Certainly not much, because he would be called upon by workers that he represents to justify decisions he takes on issues and would therefore be more measured in decisions that he took especially in situations such as the PSC Tema Shipyard issue.
As for the executives of GHAPOHA, what are their true interests in kicking against the project? Do they have the technical expertise in FPSO construction technology to bring on board to PSC Tema Shipyard?
What profile in shipyard management do they have?
When all is said and done it is the national interest that should prevail in assessing any policy decision of Government. Would the nation benefit from the collaboration between Tullow and PSC Tema Shipyard? Certainly yes, because PSC Tema Shipyard would have an enhanced profile in Africa after the execution of this type of project aside from job creation and technology transfer aspects of the project.
The TUC Secretary, GHAPOHA executives and local union executives should therefore all shelve their parochial interests in place of the overall national interest and support this laudable initiative.
If the cause of their agitation against the project is based on a genuine concern about a takeover of PSC Tema Shipyard by Tullow then that can obviously be addressed by provisions in the agreement that clearly forbid that without killing the project. If that concern is addressed then any further agitations against the project is nothing more than certain interests preferring the status quo at the Shipyard to remain in furtherance of their parochial interests. Such a laudable national initiative should not be allowed to be scuttled by narrow interests.
The Tema Shipyard, a strategic National asset.
Forward ever, backwards never.
Report By: Mensah Dekportor