SHORTLY AFTER his dismissal from office by the President yesterday, the Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), Yaw Kwakwa, expressed shock at the news when he was confronted with it.
He apparently had not received any correspondence to that effect at the time the media posed a question on the subject to him, when the story trended on social media.
“I don’t know what you are talking about. My appointment has not been terminated so if you have any evidence… I don’t know about it…but when I get to that bridge I will cross it.”
According to him, he was unaware that the President had directed the company’s board to terminate his appointment through the Transport Minister.
The dismissal of Yaw Kwakwa was contained in a letter originating from the Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah as directed by the President and dated February 4, 2022.
“His Excellency, the President of the Republic, per letter No. OPS127/22/104 dated January 31, 2022, has directed that the appointment of Mr. Yaw Kwakwa as the Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited, be terminated.
Mr. Kwakwa has experienced a no-love-lost relationship with staff of the GACL since he assumed the leadership of the company.
On October 6, 2020, staff of the company embarked upon an action demanding his removal from office.
They adorned the premises of the company with red to push their demand for his removal from office.
They also accused him of mismanagement of the company and even sent a petition to the President through the Chief of Staff.
According to them, “the Managing Director, since assumption of office two years ago, has demonstrated gross incompetence, insensitivity and lack of understanding of the critical Aviation Industry and therefore, his continuous stay in office will further derail the progress of the company.”
Continuing, they accused the MD of “deliberate refusal to implement several interview reports lying on his desk for over two years preferring rather outsourcing key aspects of the company’s operations at exorbitant costs, notwithstanding the availability of in-house capacity.”
They mentioned services which were being outsourced as carpentry works and plumbing works, among others.
They also accused him of not showing interest in their welfare as evidenced, according to them, in outstanding payments owed staff.
According to the leadership of the Ghana Airport Company Limited’s Divisional Union of the Public Services Workers’ Union (PSWU) in the petition, the only way out was for his removal.
“As leaders of the Divisional Workers Union, representing the entire general staff body, we are convinced after engagement with our members at the Headquarters and the Regional Airports that the only way to get the company back on its tracks and to achieve the President’s vision of making KIA an aviation hub in the sub-region is the removal of the Managing Director,” the petition, signed by union chairman, Abdul-Issaka Bamba, and six other executives demanded.
The union leaders copied National Security Minister, Labour Commission, Minister for Employment and Labour Relations and other stakeholders in their petition with a 14-day ultimatum.
Their demand was not met but now, it has, and their reaction is all too obvious.
The President’s action is coming on the backdrop of the recent appointment of a board of directors for the GACL being headed by Paul Adom Otchere.
It would be recalled that in the heat of the workers’ demand, and in consultation with the board, led by Madam Oboshie Sai-Cofie, a six-month roadmap to address all statutory and welfare deductions of staff, which have been the source of agitations against the company recently, were laid out.
Management resolved that all welfare and statutory deductions would be settled beginning August 2021. The welfare deductions include departmental welfare, senior staff, trade associations and credit associations. Payment of Tier 2 pension contributions will commence in October 2021 and will extend over a period of six months.
Arrangements were also concluded for the payment of SSNIT contributions from August 2021 over a period of 12 months. The move was expected to bring to an end the hostility between management and staff of GACL. This too did not.
The roadmap was agreed following a meeting between management and the GACL board, the terms of which were presented at the staff durbar, held on Wednesday, August 11, 2021.
Yaw Kwakwa told staff, “Management of GACL will continue to deepen staff engagement at all levels on the financial status of the organisation.”
He said management would duly follow and comply with the six-month roadmap that had been set for payment of all outstanding statutory and welfare deductions, in the belief that this would help restore staff confidence and improve the working relationship between staff and management.
“I take responsibility for all that is happening in the organisation. The workers have every right to complain when they are going through hardship. What I don’t condone is to take the law into your hands and attack management members,” Kwakwa said.
He added: “Our number one challenge had to do with the refinancing of the over US$400 million asset-backed corporate loan we took to finance our capital expenditure requirements under two separate components. But like I said, we will continue to engage our workers and resolve all outstanding issues.”
By A.R. Gomda