The Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL), is currently out searching for a new Managing Director (MD) as the government, has sacked Pamela Djamson-Tettey under the guise of attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 years, hence must leave on December 23, 2023.
What is strange is that, the GACL has officers in senior management positions, who are in their 70s or well past the compulsory retirement age of 60.
For instance, Captain (Rtd) Budu Koomson, aged over 70, is still serving as the Special Assistant Adviser to the Managing Director.
The development, has sent the workers some of whom hadn’t been promoted in years murmuring about the purity of the government’s intention, especially when many heads of state agencies, including Ghana Railway Authority and Ghana Gas Company are over 60 years, but still in office on contract under the claim of excellent performance or unique expertise.
Djamson-Tettey, had taken over from Yaw Kwakwa, with a mindset to turn the fortunes of the state-owned company around and protect the national asset. She succeeded in doing that to a large extent in less than two years.
Her appointment as MD, in February last year, happened at a time of tension between the workers and management, however, she won over the workers to her side and managed to enhance efficiency leading to increased revenue into national coffers. Many insiders tell The Herald that GACL is not what it was when she took over from Mr Kwakwa.
But she had run into conflict with the Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah for opposing attempts to hand over the prime GACL to Heaven Builders Limited, owned by Benedict Peters, a friend of the Akufo-Addo family for a chicken feed, and was threatened with dismissal.
Mrs Djamson-Tettey was ready to resign, but prevailed upon to wait for the President, Nana Akufo-Addo who was on a foreign trip to return. Little was spoken about her dismissal or retirement until she was recently sent a letter that her services were no longer needed, hence must leave when she hits 60 years on December 23.
To give her sacking some semblance of credibility, another institution under the transport ministry, the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), had its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Benonita Bismarck also retired, but after seven years at the helm of affairs from June 2017 to November 2023. She is replaced by one Kwesi Baffour Sarpong.
But the case of the GACL has left many surprised as to the extent the government and its cronies will go to get its way around particularly having unfettered access to state property.
The Herald last week reported the troubling situation at GACL, where senior management positions have been taken over by individuals who have exceeded the mandatory retirement age of 60 years.
This influx of retirees has resulted in a stagnation of staff promotions, with some employees remaining in the same roles for over 21 years, creating tension within the state-owned GACL.
Captain (Rtd) Budu Koomson, aged over 70, is serving as the Special Assistant Adviser to the Managing Director.
His appointment is perceived as a reward for his involvement in bringing the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Nana Akufo-Addo to power. Despite changes in Managing Directors over the years, Koomson continues to hold his position without any blemish.
Similarly, Colonel (Rtd) Emmanuel Akohene Mensah, aged 69, serves as the Director of Aviation Security.
Additionally, Yaw Appiah-Danquah, aged 63, the Director of Airports Planning and Projects, and Emmanuel Akotoa Fianko, aged 64, the Group Executive in charge of Procurement, have also retained their positions with no indications of departure.
Complicating matters is the government’s decision to remove Djamson–Tettey as MD, allegedly to facilitate major policies, including the disposal of prime Airport Lands in Accra for the Airport City 2 Project.
Benedict Peters’ Heaven Builders Limited, is expected to act as the Anchor Developer.
The disposal of the airport lands, priced at US$85 million for 45 years, raises concerns as Benedict Peters pushes for a counter-proposal of 62.14 acres for 99 years at a significantly reduced value, described by analysts as detrimental to the country’s interests.
Despite multiple valuation reports supporting a higher price, efforts by Adom-Otchere and Minister for Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, seem determined to favour Heaven Builders Limited.
Heaven Builders Limited, owned by Benedict Peters, has connections to the Akufo-Addo family and has been previously involved in controversial dealings, such as deploying an expensive COVID-19 testing facility at KIA during the pandemic.
Peters’ attempt to secure valuable land at KIA for a fraction of its worth, is raising eyebrows and highlighting potential conflicts of interest within the government.
The juicy state lands near the KIA in the name of GACL, is being given out to a Nigerian-owned company; Heaven Builders Limited, which is using some Ghanaians as fronts.
The Ghana Institute of Surveyors is reported to have priced a 1.7 acre of the airport lands for over US$6.3million, as far back as 2019, but Heaven Builders owned by Benedict Peters, a friend of the Akufo-Addo family, has pegged the current value of an acre of the land at a paltry US$1.3million on average.
Benedict Peters is a friend of Edward Akufo-Addo alias “Bumpty”, a younger brother of the President.
Ghana Airports is giving out 38.41 acres of the land to anchor holders at US$85 million for 45 years, but the influential Benedict Peters, has insisted on having 62.14 acres for 99 years in its counter-proposal which analysts have described as inimical to the interest of the country.
This means that the land – 62.14 acres – which is supposed to be sold at US$139 million, the valuation of GACL is going to be US$85 million, which is rather the cost of the 38.41 acres of the airport lands.
But going by the Ghana Institute of Surveyors, which priced 1.7 acres of the land at over US$ 6.3 million as of 2019, Benedict Peters, should be coughing more than US$139 million.
The land was part of a 272-acre land the Tony Lithur-led board under the John Mahama administration, got vested in the name of the state and leased to GACL for 99 years.
The proposed terms, notably a significantly reduced value for the land, have raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
The valuation of the land, especially in comparison to reports from the Ghana Institute of Surveyors, raises questions about the transparency and fairness of the deal.
The situation underscores the challenges of balancing governance, transparency, and potential conflicts of interest within state-owned enterprises. The ongoing situation warrants scrutiny and public discourse to ensure accountability and fair practices.