Minority wades into saga of Neoplan’s looming collapse

The Minority in Parliament has waded into the debate over the intended closure of Neoplan (Ghana) Ltd, set for 31 January.

According to the NDC MPs, a company shutdown will not be in Ghana’s best interests.

Governs Kwame Agbodza, a ranking member of Parliament’s roads and transport committee, said the government, as the majority shareholder, has a role to play in ensuring that the company stays afloat.

Strategic asset

Mr Agbodza said that, should the company present a petition, the committee on roads and transport is ready to look into the threats to Neoplan’s survival in order to avert any closure.

“It will be tragic to let Neoplan die or fold up [sic]. In the first place, the state owns 55 per cent and it was a strategic asset as at the time the joint venture was established. The roads and transport committee would like to look into this.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a petition from the company yet but I think it is not too late. They can petition us; we can look into it and together chart a way forward.

“That company cannot be allowed to fold ... The right thing for the government to do is as quickly as possible put the board together,” Mr Agbodza told reporters.

In distress

The Minority MP’s call follows the announcement that Neoplan will cease trading on Friday because it is no longer viable.

A company memo to all staff at its two bases in Accra and Kumasi cited a lack of contracts and recurring losses as reasons for the intended shutdown.

The memo, dated January 15 and signed by the managing director of the company, Georges Nassar, concerned “Closure of Neoplan (Ghana) Limited”.

It said: “Management regretfully informs you that Neoplan (Ghana) Limited will be closing down its branches on 31st January 2020 … This is due to lack of contracts and recurring monthly losses incurred. As a result, all employment contracts with the company will be terminated as of the said date until further notice.”

Group appeal

The Minority is the latest interest group to add its voice, following an appeal by a pro-government pressure group, the Concerned Voters Movement (CVM).

In a statement signed by its president, Razak Kojo Opoku, the CVM said: “We are urging President Akufo-Addo to intervene and save the collapsing of Neoplan (Ghana) Ltd since his appointees at the Transport Ministry have failed woefully to support the company.”

The statement added: “Government has an obligation towards Ghanaians. The government cannot continue to rely on the importation of Chinese, Korea and Indian buses [to] the detriment of Neoplan (Ghana) Ltd, a 55 per cent government-owned company. This is absolutely unacceptable.”

Records show that the bus manufacturing company, during its almost 46 years in existence, has built more than 4,000 buses for the government to support public transportation in Ghana.

The company can employ over 1,000 workers when working at full capacity and running shifts on its production lines.

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