$5m Tema feed-mill sabotaged by gov officials?
By: Richard Attenkah, Tema
Management of the Ghana Protein Limited (GPL), a US$5 million feed mill in Tema has observed that some government officials have connived with officials from some state institutions in the country to mete out unfair labour treatment to the company, which has led to the virtual collapse of the facility.
They have, therefore, appealed to President John Evans Atta-Mills to as a matter of urgency intervene to save not only the investment from going down the drain, but also to save the jobs of its desperate workers.
Addressing a press conference at the company’s premises in Tema recently, Anthony Adu-Nketia, Accounts Manager for Ghana Protein noted that in 1999, in its efforts to find a solution to the fish waste menace in the country, the Ghana Investment Promotions Council (GIPC) visited La Cote-D’lvoire and found what had been done in the country in terms of industrial processing of the fish waste.
He said “They were very much impressed and subsequently lured the investor to replicate the same thing in Ghana”. The investor, who is also the chairman of Ghana Protein, Robert Fabrice
accepted the invitation and, therefore, visited Ghana in 2000 to register the name of the company and went further to acquire a 25 acre land from Tema Development Corporation (TDC) for the project.
“At all material times during the process, Mr. Fabrice was assured by both governmental agencies and our private sector partners, especially Pioneer Food Cannery (PFC), of their willingness to supply us with raw materials”.
Mr. Nketia said two to three years after the completion of the 360-tonne fishmeal plant, the company was further encouraged to invest in a 73-tonne fish pellet plant for the aquaculture sector.
“We were supported with a letter of exemption to enable us bring in our raw material (fish waste) from the Free Zones, specifically from PFC and the harbor, where applicable. However, immediately GPL commenced production, some officials of EPA connived with some individuals and issued them with permits to dry the fish waste on the bare ground. This was the first conspiracy theory against us.
“This emboldened the canneries to mete out harsh and cohesive diabolical plan against our facility, to the extent that we did not receive the fish waste as was expected”, he explained. The Accounts Manager continued that as a result, the 360-tonne plant received just above an average of 43-tonnes of fish waste per day, in 2008, but which even reduced to as low as 30 tonnes per day in the subsequent years when the canneries were rather generating more fish waste.
Mr. Adu-Nketia noted that as a result of the development they wrote several petitions to EPA, Ministry of Food and Agric (MOFA), GIPC and the Ministry of Trade to intervene but to no avail.
According to Mr. Adu-Nketia, in September 2011, management of the ‘distressed’ company intercepted some information from a reliable source that some top officials at MOFA have written a letter that sought to invoke the Ministry’s regulatory powers to put the Ministry’s support behind the PFC to construct its own fish meal plant under the free zones status.
He said they immediately wrote to the sector Minister to inform him about what they have heard and drew his attention to the negative impact such a letter could have on their investment if nothing was done about it, but again, nothing came out of it.
Mr. Adu-Nketia continued that as of now, PFC has completed its fish meal plant and “has served a notice to inform us that effective October 31, 2012, they would no longer supply us with the raw material (fish meal), and knowing that we cannot run without the raw material for their plant, went ahead to invite us to be a buyer/distributor for their fish meal.
“The issue is, we did not set up a 360-tonne fish meal plant just to be a distributor. Unfortunately, the waste cannot be imported, contrary to the Honorable Minister’s speculation. Exportation of fish waste is forbidden under international regulations”, he stressed.
The company is, therefore, appealing to President Mills to intervene to ensure that such a huge investment does not only go down the drain, but also deprive all the 50 employees of the company of their livelihood.
The PFC plant, which cost US$2.5million when working at full capacity will employ 34 workers, whilst working fewer than 10 percent capacity, GPL has employed 50 persons, he concluded.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Consultant of PFC, Rex Danquah has
denied that his client has meted out unfair treatment to Ghana Protein Limited.
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