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A former Director-General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Richard Anamoo, has discredited a report published by Africa Confidential which suggested that French billionaire, Vincent Bolloré has taken full control of the country’s ports.
The special report accused Bolloré of underhand dealings by using his firm, Bolloré Africa Logistics to win a contract to run a container terminal at the Tema Port through a 70 percent joint-owned venture between Ghana’s government and Meridian Ports Services (MPS).
It follows a secret Ghanaian ministerial report which cited a lack of transparency and ethical discipline in the deal, recommending that the contract must be immediately re-negotiated because it was “so tilted against Ghana’s interests”.
But speaking on Wednesday’s edition of The Point of View on Citi TV, Mr. Anamoo told host, Bernard Avle that the report is not only full of false claims but also factual inaccuracies without any fresh emerging details.
“I thought there was something really confidential about the report. But, unfortunately, when I read it, it was basically the report of the ministerial committee. I didn’t see anything that was really confidential because all the information in that paper is already in the public domain. Making it look like the ports in West Africa are controlled by Bolloré is absolutely false. Apart from this, Ghana’s port is not only the Tema port. It’s both the Tema and Takoradi ports, and our vision is to grow these ports and Bolloré is not in the Takoradi port. So all those claims in the report are not supported by any evidence,” he noted.
Commenting on portions of the report that claimed Bolloré and his foreign partners persuaded the government to breach procurement laws and allowed the company’s monopoly on handling containers, putting thousands of jobs at risk and driving up prices, Mr. Anamoo said this assertion is completely untrue.
“I am not defending Bolloré, but these are factual matters because they elected to help West Africa and spend their resource on developing port infrastructure. So if we have been successful, I do not see that as something that is worrying. The report has not stated anywhere that there is an exclusion of laws that prevented any companies from bidding.”
The report mentioned that Ghana’s equity in MPS was surreptitiously cut from the initially agreed 30 to 15 percent.
It also revealed that MPS overstated its planned investment leading to tax holidays of $832 million from Ghana’s parliament.
But the former GPHA Head described these claims as falsehood and provided further explanation.
“MPS already had a concession with GPHA and that was for 20 years and as of 2015, they still had about nine years to exit the concession. So, what we did was to amend the existing concession agreement with the building of a new port. So we amended that to take care of the new conditions. The new concession was made for 35 years from the first day of the operations of the new terminal.”
“The port is public property and the contract was a private investment. MPS cannot under any circumstance get up and say they are closing the port. It can not happen. GPHA will step in. If you take the World Bank procurement document, there is a clause in there for the payment of taxes. It is stated very clearly that all duties, taxes and levies should be included in the rate and bidder’s price. In all, when there is a private investment on public properties, there is taxation because the end result is that the tax will be borne by the state”, Mr. Amanoo clarified.