The Komenda Sugar Factory has been closed down for maintenance for six months, two days after it was commissioned by President John Mahama.
In an interview with Joy News, Ricketts Hagan explained that in order for the plant to operate properly, there are certain steps that must be followed and the closure for maintenance is just one.
“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 again when the production starts.
“The plant has a maintenance cycle where a lot of things like cleaning up will be done. One of the things we’ve not been good at in this country and it is not surprising that we have run down all the factories that were built during Nkrumah days”.
He said the commissioning of the plant, therefore, coincided with the time it was supposed to be maintained, hence the need for it to be closed.
President John Mahama on Monday, May 30, 2016, re-commissioned the Komenda Sugar Factory 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 run into some technical and operational challenges.
The factory, according to government, is expected to create over 7000 jobs.
However, the newly commissioned factory, according to the Regional Minister, has been closed down for maintenance and other issues to be addressed just 48 hours after the re-commissioning.
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.
“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 Ricketts Hagan says the Minority Leader is uninformed about the situation.
“This is a manual prescription by the manufacturer and they intend to follow through religiously and not do things the same way that we have done it in the past to run down things that we have invested a lot of tax payer’s money into.”
He accused the minority leader of speculating “irresponsibly about things he has not seen.”
Meanwhile, the Minority has also cast doubts on the ability if the Komenda Sugar Factory to operate at its maximum capacity.
Its spokesperson on Trade and Industry, 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.
“This happened to the old plant and maintenance exacted a huge toll on the profitability of the factory. 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, believes 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 many more, the Minority believes the factory is not ready for operation.
“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,” Prof Baffour stated.