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Friday, June 14, 2024

TROUBLE BREWS IN BULLION VAN INDUSTRY (1)

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…Thousands to Be Thrown Out Of Work by Policy Change!

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Some security companies operating in the bullion van industry have expressed great worry over what they describe as attempts to hijack their industry on behalf of a single operator. This is because available information is that in the very near future, it would be announced that only one company can import bullion vans into the country, and that all existing bullion van companies must buy their vans, or his them, from this new company. Further intelligence is that all existing companies would be phased out, for the new company to take over the operations. The effect of this is that all bullion van security companies would collapse, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Hon Ambrose Dery is Ghana’s Minister of Interior

The industry currently has revenue running into the millions of dollars and employs thousands of people. It has been suggested that the effort to capture the industry is intended to concentrate the industry and its resources in the hands of a few people.

Speaking to the Daily Searchlight on Saturday, September 25, 2021, representatives of some of the companies revealed that intelligence they had picked up on Friday was that a company has already been formed and registered for that purpose, and described the development as woeful.

“It will put thousands of people out of work, effectively destroy several viable companies, and pose security threats,” they explained.

They pointed out that the bullion van industry is a highly specialized area, requiring particular expertise and skills of the personnel.

Dr. Ernest Addison is the Governor of the Bank of Ghana

“We have been in this industry for years. Some of us have institutional knowledge going back over two decades, and if this happens, all that knowledge would be lost or scattered,” they said.

Explaining the basis of their concern, they explained that intelligence they have picked up indicated that government has decided that the importation and operations of bullion vans in the country was going to be handed over to a new company, allegedly coming out of the United Kingdom.

“We have been operating the various routes with our trained drivers and personnel for years. We know this terrain. If there is any upgrading to be done, it should be with the existing companies, and not a newly formed company,” they said.

They said that their intelligence was that government intended that all bullion vans should be imported by just one company.

Killings and Bullion Vans

It would be recalled that on June 14, 2021, Constable Emmanuel Osei, who was escorting a bullion van, was shot to death by as yet unidentified armed robbers on motorbikes, who had attacked a bullion van he was escorting.

Intelligence picked up by the Daily Searchlight indicate that following the killing of the police officer in a bullion van at James Town in Accra in June this year, police officers said they would not board bullion vehicles unless the vehicles were bullet proof. Alternatively, the police suggested the use of the escort process, that is two-car convoys where they would follow up the bullion vans in follow up vehicles.

Cost benefit analysis showed that the two-car convoy method was very expensive, and so all the bullion van companies preferred acquiring bullet-proof vans.

All the private security companies therefore approached the Bank of Ghana for specifications on the type of bullet proof bullion vans that would be acceptable.

The representatives of the security companies said that when the Bank of Ghana made the specification available, many of them then proceeded to place orders with various car manufacturing companies abroad. All in all, the companies placed orders for hundreds of vehicles. The vehicles that were ordered are now ready, or nearly to be finished and transported to Ghana.

The various companies, we have learned, then applied to the Ministry of Interior for approvals for their vehicles, whose specifications had been given by the Bank of Ghana. Instead of approving the vehicles, however, the Ministry of Interior rather told the security companies to wait.

“Then, just this Friday, news hitting the grapevine is that the government has approved just one company as the primary supplier of bullion vans in Ghana, and that again this company would be responsible for all the security routes of the various banks operating in Ghana. In effect, not only would we be expected to solely approach this company for our bullion vans, but we would not even be allowed to operate as different entities,” they said.

This means that in one swoop, all the private security companies operating in the bullion industry are going to be killed in favour of this new company, which so far has no track record in Ghana in the industry.

The companies so far operating in Ghana are Mantrain, Westec, G4S, Intercon, Agate Security (believed to be the biggest operator), as well as several smaller ones.

All these companies are expected to go out of operations when the new company takes over, potentially throwing thousands of Ghanaians onto the unemployment heap.

Interestingly, a significant proportion of banks in Ghana are privately owned, or has significant private sector participation, and it remains to be seen how the new initiative would be implemented.

Calls and message placed to the phone of Interior Minister Hon Ambrose Dery had not been returned as at press time. The Bank of Ghana had however stated that it would study the matter and come out with a position, if any.

(Part II shortly.)

(You can follow stories in the Daily Searchlight on www.thedailysearchlight.com or Daily Searchlight on our Facebook home page. Write to us on searchlightnews@yahoo.co.uk).

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