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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

STC officials to face criminal charges

An Intercity STC bus
An Intercity STC bus
Criminal charges are to be preferred against officials of Intercity STC (ISTC) Coaches Limited, the country's premier transport company, whose actions resulted in ISTC incurring huge financial losses.

The report of a committee exposed financial malfeasance at ISTC, resulting in the company incurring millions of Ghana cedis in losses.

"Findings in the report that border on criminality will be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office for the necessary action," the Minister of Transport, Mr Mike Allen Harnmah, told the Daily Graphic in Accra following the report that exposed the 'rot' at the company.

He said the government had contracted the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) to develop a revival plan to revamp the operations of ISTC in an effort to lift the comp-any out of its present predicament:

The plan, he added, was expected to be presented to the ministry by August 17, 2010, although the management and board of ISTC w.ere also working together to develop a comprehensive and a strategic business plan.

Giving highlights of what the plan was to capture, the .minister said it would involve ideas that would seek to inject fresh capital to revamp the operations of the company and introduce cost-cutting measures to streamline activities at ISTC.

Mr Hammah, who described the company's financial standing as "precarious", said it made gross profit but recorded negative net profit due to what he described as "high operating cost", underscoring the need for cost-cutting mechanisms to enhance efficiency.

He expressed the belief that the company would enjoy a Unique and competitive advantage in the transport industry in the country, given its preference by majority of the travelling public across the country.

He expressed concern over the sudden loss of confidence in the company by sections of the public following the poor nature of its operations, coupled with poor customer service, among other operational difficulties.

The minister was of the view that injecting fresh capital into the company was subject to approval by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) which had an 80 per cent stake in ISTC, since it was a stakeholder.

"The government's interest now is to bolster the company to make it more efficient for the travelling public," he said.

To that end, Mr Hammah stated that the ministry was exploring the possibility of seeking private sector participation in the company, in view of some 200 buses that were expected to be imported into the country as a first tranche for distribution to the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) and the Metro Mass Transit (MMT) Limited.

He added that procuring additional buses for ISTC would be subject to how the company performed after the plan had been implemented.

"ISTC has a lot of landed property and all that is needed is for a blueprint to turn the affairs of the Company around," Mr Hammah added.

The August 12, 2010 edition of the Daily Graphic published the findings of a committee of enquiry that exposed financial malfeasance at ISTC, in which an estimated GH¢81 million collected from passengers as clearance fees from 2000 to 2009 could not be accounted for.

The clearance fees were paid by passengers to and from Abidjan, Cotonou and Ouagadougou, in addition to the normal fares charged by ISTC, to facilitate their smooth and quick movement through the many borders and barriers on the company's international routes.

Though the fees had been collected in the name of the company, there was no record of receipts, nor could the money be accounted for by the management.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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