An Escrow Account opened for about 95% of the total revenue of the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) meant for servicing a loan facility of US$274million secured by the airport operator for the construction of Kotoka Internationl Airport’s Terminal 3 is causing disaffection among the rank and file of the company.
Due to the repayment of the loan facility after the moratorium period, revenue inflows targeted to finance other pressing issues have been crippled, a situation which has resulted in the clash of heads within the GACL.
For instance, the GACL Divisional Union of PSWU led by its Chairman, Abdul-Issaka Bamba, on February 26, 2021 called for the head of the Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited, Mr. Yaw Kwakwa, over his alleged disregard for staff welfare matters resulting in several outstanding payments owed the staff.
Mr. Kwakwa was also accused of deliberately refusing to implement several interview reports and outsourcing key aspects of the company’s operations at exorbitant cost notwithstanding the availability of in-house capacity.
Apart from that, Mr. Kwakwa’s leadership style has been questioned by the Union. They accused him of using divide and rule leadership style and also failing to listen to staff leaders. In view of these, they have called for all workers to lay down their tools in protest of the leadership style of Mr. Kwakwa.
However, in spite of being a target of the GACL Divisional Union of PSWU and the challenges confronting the company, Mr. Kwakwa’s reputation within the aviation industry continue to soar due to the successes he has led the company to chalk since assuming office in 2018.
For instance, under the leadership of Mr. Kwakwa, the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) was adjudged the best airport by particular on the African continent in the year 2020, according to the Airports Council International (ACI).
The Airport Service Quality (ASQ) which was announced on Monday, March 1, 2021, was based on judgments by customers.
“This year more than any other, the awards recognise those airports that have listened to their customers and adapted the services and experiences they offer to meet changing needs and expectations under very trying circumstances,” Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World’s director, said.
In 2019, the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) under the same leadership of Mr. Kwakwa, was also adjudged Africa’s Best Airport by size and region with a passenger population of between two and five million.
The Terminal 3 of the KIA, which serves regional, international and long-haul operators, also emerged Africa’s ‘Most Improved’ Airport in the year under review.
It was the first time the West African nation became a recipient of two major awards by the global airport customer experience measurement and benchmarking body.
With Mr. Kwakwa’s footprint all over and having recognized such, some concerned staff of the GACL under the leadership of Eric Yeboah, have called the bluff of the Divisional Union of the company describing their agitations as having political connotations.
To them, they are not surprised about the path taken by the Divisional Union since they are fully aware how some of their leaders and members were employed by the company.
“We are not surprised at what the Division Union is doing. Their action is politically motivated. However, we want to send a message to them that once they have chosen to pursue their master’s bid, we will not allow that because we know that Mr. Kwakwa has brought a lot of transformation to the GACL and we will sit aloof for all these gains to be derailed. We are resist all their actions and stand solidly before Mr. Kwakwa”, the concerned staff posited in a letter sighted by this paper.
Spread over five floors and 45,000 sq metres, Terminal 3 of Kotoka International Airport which began construction in March 2016 was completed and opened to the public on September 15, 2018.
The completion of Terminal 3 has expanded the airport’s total passenger-handling capacity by 5million and significantly ease peak-hour congestion at the previous international terminal, Terminal 2.
The US$274m project was partly funded by a US$120m loan facility from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and was built by Turkish-based MAPA Construction and Trade Company.
Following the moratorium period, an Escrow Account was opened for about 95% of the total revenue of GACL to be deposited into. This is to service the loan facility secured by the airport operator.
Despite successfully easing congestion at the KIA, the move has also brought about some challenges, the key one being a shortfall in revenue meant to finance other pressing issues by the airport operator.
Reasoning with the constraints at hand, the Eric Yeboah-led concerned staff opined that the demands of the GACL Divisional Union lacked merit considering the current situation of the company.
Commenting on Mr. Kwakwa’s alleged disregard for staff welfare matters resulting in several outstanding payments owed the staff, the concerned staff noted that per their investigations, none of the applicants who attended those interviews made the pass mark and that a decision had been made by the management of GACL to re-run the interviews.
On the issue of outsourcing, the group was of the view that it was in line with best industry practices as most aspects of the organization that are not directly related to the aviation industry are usually outsourced.
“We believe that if something has been said about Mr. Kwakwa with regards to outsourcing then it must rather be a commendation since he has successfully managed to renegotiate most of such contracts to the benefit of GACL. Notable among these are the contract with MAPA and the BRT, usually referred to as ‘ayalolo’. Indeed we find it extremely difficult to give any credibility to this wild allegation since the Divisional Union failed to substantiate their allegation by failing to cite a single example of the supposed unwarranted contracts”, they noted.
On the issue of welfare matters, the group gave thumbs up to Mr. Kwakwa as issues such as medical care, safe working environment, and provision of PPEs and observation of COVID-19 protocols have been given a boost under his administration.
“It is therefore not only myopic on the part of the Divisional Union to limit staff welfare to the payment of monies but also quite absurd to make such demands like the payment of bonus in the midst of this corona virus pandemic which has greatly impacted on the aviation industry”, they averred.
In response to the allegations of divide and rule by Mr. Kwakwa and he not listening to staff leaders, the Concerned Staff said the M.D operates an open door policy whereby any staff is free and able to access his office.
That aside, Mr. Kwakwa has also engaged the Union on several occasions on various matters bothering on the general interest and welfare of staff, noting that such moves by the MD have records to back them.
To the concerned staff, juxtaposing all the unfounded allegations levelled against Mr. Kwakwa and that of the responses they have given, “it is quite conclusive that the Union is up in arms with Mr. Kwakwa for no justifiable reason. We think that the call for workers to lay down their tools is uncalled for and any staff found following such directives by the Union be brought to book since we at the Ghana Airports Company Limited are essential service providers by the state. We also wish to state that Mr. Kwakwa be retained in office as the Managing Director of Ghana Airports Company Limited since all the allegations levelled against him are frivolous and do not hold water”.