Controversy: Newly Commissioned Komenda Sugar Factory to Shut Down after 6 Months – Minister

Since after the commissioning of the Komenda Sugar Plant by President Mahama, much questions have been raised by several individuals on its appropriateness.

Among many of the issues raised, some questioned the supposed, while some others were wondering over the reasons behind the sudden commissioning.

However, the Central Regional Minister, Ricketts Hagan has come up to clarify the public on mapped out plans for the efficient running of the Sugar Plant.

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In an interview with Joy News, Central regional Minister, Ricketts Hagan said the newly commissioned factory will be closed down after six months of production. He explained that in order for the plant to operate properly, there are certain steps that must be followed which includes the closure for maintenance.

He specifically pointed out that the plant will be in the production phase from October – November to May-June then the maintenance cycle will be between May-June until October when production will start again.

Continuing, Mr Hagan explained that the Komenda Sugar Plant has a maintenance cycle where a lot of things like cleaning up will be done. According to him, this is one of the things we’ve not been good at in this country and its one of the things that ruined all the factories that were built during Nkrumah days.

However, Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, while addressing a press conference in Parliament on Thursday described the development as a lack of planning and research on the part of government before the re-commissioning. According to him,

Closing it down will still require the input of energy (electricity). You are not producing and you pay the workers; you are not going to lay them off. So when it comes on stream again and you have to produce, whatever is produced, the overhead cost will build up even when you are not producing. It doesn’t make sense to do this, who are we deceiving?”

But Mr Hagan accused the minority leader of speculating “irresponsibly about things he has not seen, adding that he is uninformed about the situation. Insisting that the plan is a proper one, he explained that it is a manual prescription by the manufacturer and they intend to follow through religiously and avoid doing things the same way it has been done it in the past. This he said, will prevent running down things that a lot of tax payer’s money have been invested into.

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Moreover, the minority spokesperson on Trade and Industry, Professor Djan Baffour has also cast doubts on the ability of the Komenda Sugar Plant to operate at its maximum capacity, pointing out another area of weakness.

Professor Djan Baffour said the citing of the factory close to the sea will lead to expensive maintenance cost on the iron and steel component of the plant due to the salty sea breeze. According to him, it was the same thing that happened to the old plant and its maintenance exacted a huge toll on the profitability of the factory. He pointed out that in those times, the plant had to be shut down every year to allow for the extraction of corroded matter from the steel pipes.

The Minority, therefore, are of the opinion that the factory should have been located further away from the coastline. They are also of the view that the diversion of farm lands from the production of multi crops to mono-crops – sugar cane – presents a possibility of food insecurity in the area since the new factory is 25 percent bigger than the old. With these and much more, the Minority believes the factory is not ready for operation. Concluding, Prof. Baffour said,

“When the euphoria for reviving the Komenda Sugar factory has died down…Ghanaians will appreciate that it is not yet time to celebrate. Much more needs to be done.”

The Komenda Sugar Plant

President John Mahama on Monday, May 30, 2016, commissioned the Komenda Sugar Factory in the Central Region. HE did this during his ‘Accounting to the People Tour in the Central Region.

The factory, which was established decades ago by the first President of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, was left to deteriorate after it runs into some technical and operational challenges.

The president had hinted at the positive gains hoped to be achieved from the new Komenda sugar factory, including the creation of about 7000 jobs for the Ghanaian youth.