By Emmanuel Akli
One of the core functions of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is to process crude oil for domestic consumption, but close to a year now its production can best be described as erratic. Though there are strong indications that a mafia group was working behind the scenes to ensure that the state-owned refinery did not work, its management insists some of its machines have broken down, resulting in the nightmare they are going through.
But, as the refinery struggles to be on its feet, there are reports that its management has resorted to the recruitment of more managers. A source, which spoke to The Chronicle, alleged that the refinery had just appointed as many as 40 managers to man the various departments.
The source did not understand why a company that had temporary stopped production should be appointing such a huge senior management staff.
The source was also not happy with management’s decision to run the shift system for the workers, and paying huge sums of money for that, when there is no work for these staff to do. TOR management has, however, denied all these allegations, insisting that they had not employed 40 new managers as was being alleged.
According to the Public Affairs Manageress of TOR, Ms Aba Lokko, who spoke to The Chronicle via phone yesterday, the entire refinery has only 28 managers, and that it would be absurd for anyone to assume that they had appointed 40 new managers.
According to her, for the past months, the refinery had appointed only six managers to replace those who had either retired, resigned, or were dead.
She expatiated that promotions were not carried out anyhow at TOR, and that there was a committee, which has a representatives of the workers union serving on it, that looked into the issue of promotion.
Aba Lokko told The Chronicle that if a department requests for a manager, the department would have to justify the basis for its request before the Promotion Committee, and that there were no blanket promotions or appointments at TOR.
On the issue of running a shift system, Aba Lokko said though they were currently not refining crude oil, it did not mean that the workers had nothing to do when they come to work.
She noted, for instance, that the distribution department was working every day, because of the services TOR is rendering to its clients.
Meanwhile the Ghana News Agency reports that Mr. Ussif Mustapha, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Yagba/Kubori in the Northern Region, is advocating against the sale of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) by the government.
He said the move by the government to sell the country’s only refinery was against the will of the majority of Ghanaians, and urged the government to rescind its decision. Mr. Mustapha disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra on Friday.
He said although there were challenges in the operations of TOR, the challenges were human and could be solved by the government, adding, “The challenge at TOR is mismanagement, and can therefore, be managed well by government if appropriate measures are put in place.”
Mr. Mustapha, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy, said Ghana was discovering oil in commercial quantities, and that TOR, instead of being privatized, should rather be expanded to meet the increasing demand of oil and gas in the country and other neighbouring countries.
He said the government of the National Democratic Congress, which claims to boost the private sector, should rather develop a programme that would allow the private sector to go into an agreement with the government to construct a new refinery.
Mr. Mustapha also noted that there were many private companies in the country which could construct a refinery, even without the financial support of the government, but they were not getting the support and opportunity.
“Selling TOR means Ghana is going to lose the small dividend that it gets from the refinery. We have to own it before we can get any profit from it; if we sell it, then we have lost everything that comes from it.”
He appealed to Ghanaians to resist the government’s decision to sell TOR, and advised his fellow MPs to kick against the matter if it is brought to the floor of Parliament.