Workers of the Ayensu Starch Factory at Awutu Bawjiase in the Awutu Senya West District of the Central Region have demonstrated against managers of the company over allegations that the company is not doing much to make the struggling firm viable.
The workers, together with some farmers who are the main suppliers of cassava to the factory, are thus asking government to take back its 70% shares sold to investors.
The workers and the farmers say the company has not seen any major face-lift since the takeover by private investors.
Some of the workers want government to take over the company and bring it under its One District One Factory initiative.
Speaking to Citi News, the leader for the demonstrators, who is also an Accounts Officer with the company, Yaw Ofori Asante, said the company also struggles to pay farmers for raw material they supply them.
“The investors who took over the company worked for about three months and deserted the place. They’re not the majority shareholders now because they have not paid for all the 70% that was given to them. So we are appealing to government to take back the company and use it as 1D1F so that people will get employment and the farmers will also have a place to sell their products”.
“They [the investors] were supposed to do so many things in the factory itself but they couldn’t do it. They couldn’t find money to buy spare parts; they have not paid all the money they should have paid. For 18 months now workers have not been paid. They don’t pay our SSNIT; 2nd tier too, they don’t pay. There are farmers who brought their cassava to the factory and it had to take one year before they were paid. There are so many things that show that the man cannot do the job. It is either he has no money to do it or its sheer wickedness. We want the government to take over the company, that’s all”.
They also explained that workers have not been paid for over eighteen months causing the company to be stagnant.
Gov’t to take over Ayensu Starch Factory
In March 2019, Trade and Industry Minister, Alan John Kyeremanten, hinted at government’s intention to take over operations of the ‘abandoned’ Ayensu Starch Company (ASCO).
The change of ownership to government, the Minister said, was as a result of failure on the part of shareholding company, Tiberias Company, to make further payment of its $4,450,000 obligation as the Purchaser.
Government, in August 2016 offered 70% off its shares in the Starch Company to Tiberias Company Limited, a company affiliated to the Jospong Group.
Tiberias Company accepted and made an initial payment of $2,269,500 representing 51% of its $4,450,000 obligation and the Purchaser and has made no further payment thereafter.
During a sitting in Parliament, Alan revealed that, “The Company failed or refused to fulfill its obligations under the agreement and has defaulted on all other revised payment schedules. Furthermore, the company has abandoned the company and left the workers idle and without compensation.”
“In the light of these and other developments, the Ministry through the Transaction Advisors informed the company of its decision to take over the Ayensu Starch Company in a letter dated 20th December, 2018. The Company however in a letter dated 14th January 2019 indicated its refusal to hand over possession to the Ministry although the Company has abandoned the factory putting the plant and machinery at risk.”