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TOR in turmoil again -ECG cuts power to beleaguered coy

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Tema Oil Refinery

The National Taskforce of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has cut electricity supply to the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) for owing GHc27 million. The debt, as at March this year, stood at GHc2.3 million and The Chronicle, in May 2021, published that the huge debts were sending the refinery to its knees.

In that month, the ECG and Ghana Water Company (GWC) disconnected their services to TOR, for its inability to settle its debts.

However, the government intervened, giving TOR some lungs to breathe, as it cleaned its books to settle all of its debts.

After delaying in showing good faith and realising that the debt was rather increasing at an abnormal rate, the National Taskforce of the ECG, Tuesday, with their helmets, testers, cutters and black cello tapes, dashed to the TOR supply point to cut supply to the heavily indebted TOR.

The Chronicle reached the Tema Regional ECG’s Public Relations Unit, Sakyiwaa Mensah, on the matter. She, however, said the matter was at the national headquarters, where an insider confirmed the GHc27 million debt owed by TOR.

The insider told The Chronicle that in the coming days, the Managing Director of ECG, Kwame Agyeman Budu, might address the media on the exercise at TOR.

Flashback in May 2021

The following is how The Chronicle reported the TOR issue in May this year; Huge debts owed to utility providers and workers by the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) are threatening the refinery from an imminent collapse.

The woes of TOR started last week when the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) quietly disconnected its services to the Refinery over about GHȻ4 million water bill that had been outstanding till March this year.

The situation compelled the Refinery to temporarily depend on its 11,200 cubic meter water reservoir which lasted for some 72 hours. Toilets could not be flushed after the water in the reservoir was fully used.

Dry water taps at the highly flammable company put the refinery at high risk, especially because water, which is an essential need of the refinery, is used to generate steam for the refinery and also for emergency fire-fighting purposes.

As if that is not enough, TOR, as of March this year, owed the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) about GHȻ2.3 million.

Besides, it owes its workers GHȻ34 million in Provident fund so workers who want to access their investment cannot do so for their coffers is empty.

The Refinery was again in arrears of about GHȻ21 million in the payment of workers’ SSNIT tier one and two as of April 2021.

It, moreover, owes the Ghana Revenue Authority to the tune of about GHȻ85 million in taxes as of April this year.

The huge indebtedness of TOR has put the workers on the edge, fearing that the company might be shut down if no immediate financial cushion was given to keep it alive.

The current state of TOR, some workers at the Refinery say should be blamed on the current management who they said is failing to see a reason to make the plant viable as all suggestions made to him to get the Refinery on track had proved futile.

“The Refinery is struggling to pay salaries of workers. Pensioners who are due for pension are unable to access their end of year benefits due to the lack of funds in the company’s coffers.

“This year alone, in a space of two months, the bank account of the company has been blocked on two occasions by the Ghana Revenue Authority. We are struggling to pay workers’ salaries. We are unable to pay our bills and we do not know the future of this Refinery, yet our management continues to do political employment,” some of the workers told The Chronicle on condition of anonymity.

A grade six worker, that is the lowest-paid worker at the Tema Oil Refinery, takes home GHȻ2,879 as salary, GHȻ700 ass a mid-month salary allowance and GHȻ900 monthly fuel coupon.

As of mid-May this year, 15 new category six workers have been employed on political grounds despite the numerous debts and financial challenges the refinery faces.

In a notice to its staff in October last year, the Human Resources and Administrative Manager announced the appointment of one Charles Anafi, a former Principal Engineer of the Refinery, as the Refinery’s Optimization Manager, a newly created position.

The function of the newly created Optimization Department, according to the Human Resources and Administrative Manager, Jane Ohenewaa Gyekye, in the notice to the staff, “is to commercially optimize the overall Refinery operations, study market trends and recommend useful technology/process to improve the Refinery’s viability and commercial position to achieve the company’s revenue target.”

Another new appointment was made on March 21, 2021, with one Frank Kwaku Duah appointed the Acting Inspection Manager of the plant.

However, the workers believe these appointments were needless especially when the Refinery is financially bankrupt.

The Chronicle was told that currently, TOR has ceased refining as a tolling contract signed with Woodfields Energy Resources Limited has been terminated and the company does not know where to get the next crude to refine.

Early this year, the Divisional Workers’ Union within the Refinery petitioned President Akufo-Addo to remove its MD and dissolve the current board on the grounds of incompetence.

The petitioners said the current administration was unable to point to any prospects, opportunities, initiatives, negotiated agreement that could assure the workers of a better future.

To get the management of TOR to hear their side of the matter, The Chronicle went to the refinery on Monday but was turned away by the internal security of the company after The Chronicle told the security its purpose to meet with the management.

The internal security of the company, dressed in blue, received The Chronicle at their reception where every visitor to the refinery entered their information into a visitor’s logbook.

This time, however, The Chronicle was not allowed proximity to the logbook after the reporter started his reason to meet the management.

The next day, Tuesday, The Chronicle visited the refinery again in an attempt to try its luck to meet with the management but, again, it was unsuccessful.

Later, The Chronicle called Stanley Martey, the PRO for Ghana Water Company, on the matter, but he said he was in the Ashanti Region on an assignment, thus, pleaded inability to speak on the matter.

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