Workers at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) in the Greater Accra Region have voiced their apprehensions regarding the government’s decision to lease the refinery to TORENTCO, a private investor.
They argue that this lease agreement bears resemblances to the controversial Power Distribution Services (PDS) deal involving the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), which saw funds going unaccounted for.
The workers believe that TORENTCO lacks the necessary capacity to effectively manage TOR. Mr. Bernard Owusu, the General Secretary of the General Transport and Petroleum Workers Union of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), expressed these concerns during an interview with Odehyeeba Kofi Essuman on Accra 100.5 FM’s Ghana Yensom morning show on Thursday, June 22, 2023.
Mr. Owusu emphasized that TORENTCO, as a strategic partner, does not provide any guarantee of improved management for TOR. He argued that the company has no track record in the refinery sector, raising doubts about its ability to successfully revive and operate the refinery.
The discussions regarding a private investor for TOR initially involved a company called Decimal Capital Limited, owned by former Managing Director of TOR, Mr. Asante Berko. However, Mr. Berko resigned on April 15, 2020, following allegations of bribery by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which subsequently led to a breakdown in talks with his company.
Subsequently, Mr. Berko transferred his interest to another company named Biege Bridge, which eventually became TORENTCO. The frequent transformation of the company throughout the deal has raised suspicions among the workers.
Mr. Owusu clarified that the workers at TOR are not opposed to the deal itself but rather the manner and structure of the agreement. He pointed out that no proper due diligence was conducted before entering into the leasehold arrangement, and the company’s claims to revive TOR lack concrete guarantees.
The workers at TOR are calling on the government to reconsider the lease agreement with TORENTCO and ensure that the best interests of the refinery and its employees are safeguarded.