By Gifty Arthur
Over 400 hundred artisans working on the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange, who laid down their tools to protest for a better condition of service, yesterday resumed work, less than 24 hours after embarking on a sit down strike.
The construction workers, who were in the news on Monday morning, threatened to embark on a five-day sit-down strike, but quickly resumed work after the Brazilian construction firm, M/S Queiroz Galvao Constucao, agreed to cancel a contract it had with a Ghanaian company, Delin H/R Consult – the local company through which they got the workers.
The local workers, who work day and night, wore red arm bands to drum home their demands, and it was feared if their grievances were not looked into, it could stalled the 2016 completion date.
But this paper gathered that work resumed Monday afternoon, immediately authorities called the artisans into meetings and announced the disengagement of their employer and assured them of better conditions of service.
It is not clear whether Delin H/R Consult, will want to resort to the courts crying a breach of contractual agreement against the Brazilians.
The workers had demanded to negotiate directly with the Brazilian company, instead of the HR firm. They detected ‘cheating’ on the part of the Ghanaian firm, and further accused it of cutting down their salary of GHC 1,800, to a mere GHC800 per month.
According to the jubilant workers, the HR firm located in the Diamond House in Accra and headed by one Martha Quarshie, recruited them over a year ago, but renege on many of the promises made to them.
On Tuesday morning when this reporter visited the project site which has recently become a tourist site in Accra, workers, with assistance from their Brazilian counterparts, were spotted busily working their hearts out.
The artisans, who could not hide their joy while working, intermittently shouted “we have won, we have won”, publicly yelling that their protest has yielded results. One of them declared, “if you want peace, do the right thing” as they rejoiced and poured powder on their heads and on their working gears, indicating victory.
The Union Chairman, Michael Osei in an interview with The Herald, said the artisans who have worked for the company for a period of time now, have no access to the free health card promised by Delin H/R Consult. What angered them in this case was that their colleagues in parts of the country employed by the same company, enjoy this benefit.
“As we speak, everything has been resolved. It was left with one issue, but even that, we have been assured it would be completed this afternoon”, he said.
Asked if they had any issue with the Brazilian company, Mr. Osei said, “We have no issue with that company, but it was the woman who was disturbing us. We don’t even know her personally. It was her personnel who recruited us for her”.
He said, now that their contracts have been terminated with the HR firm and they are dealing directly with the Brazilian firm, they are at peace and would continue to give off their best.
The bond between the artisans and the Brazilians was so glaringly strong at the site as this reporter observed that they were always seen together in a hearty chat.
As at the time this paper visited the site, the usually busy and congested area which was heavily jammed on Monday morning, had a free flow of traffic.
President John Dramani Mahama, cut the sod for the construction of the three-tier interchange at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra in October, 2013. The 74.88 million euro project is being jointly financed with credit from the Brazilian Government and Government of Ghana.
According to the project design, the first of the interchanges will link the Akasanoma Road to the Nsawam Road, around the Vodafone building.
The other interchange will link the Nsawam Road to the Nkrumah Avenue, around the Ghana Commercial Bank building, while the third interchange will link Ring Road Central to Ring Road West.
Aside from the three-tier interchange, other roads around the Kwame Nkrumah Circle will be improved. These include, the rehabilitation of Ring Road East to the Feo Oyo Intersection on Ring Road West.
The roads will be given asphaltic concrete surface, with pedestrian walkways and bicycle paths. Besides, the contractors, M/S Queiroz Galvao Constucao from Brazil, will provide passenger sheds and drainage systems at the Neoplan and Odawna lorry stations.
The contractors are anticipating finishing phase one of the project by the end of May, 2015 and the whole project is anticipated to be completed by end of 2016.