Turkey's Ambassador to Ghana, Nesrin Bayazit, believes there needs to be better understanding on cultural differences between foreign workers in Ghana and their local colleagues.
Speaking to Pulse.com.gh after recent allegations of worker mistreatment by Turkish company ARDA, who are undertaking the Oda-Akwati-Winneba and Cape Coast water project, Ambassador Bayazit says while this is not the first time there have been issues between workers at the site, this latest incident was “blown out of proportion”.
The most recent issue at ARDA saw media reporting Turkish workers beat a Ghanaian worker so badly he was taken to hospital with life threatening injuries. The Akim Oda Police said they arrested a Turkish expatriate for allegedly assaulting a Ghanaian worker.
Ambassador Bayazit had spoken with the Turkish project manager who told her there had been a fight between two workers, one Ghanaian the other Turkish. It was over a forklift, she was told.
“Unfortunately there was a physical clash, the [Ghanaian] person was in the hospital as far as I know and then he was discharged.”
She tried to find information on the arrest but authorities told her there had been none.
“If any Turkish citizen is arrested we should have been informed, we haven't been informed at all, so I assume that is not true.”
She thought issues had been “blown out of proportion” and “inaccurate information” surrounded them.
Repeat calls by Pulse Ghana to police in the area for clarification on the alleged assault went unanswered.
Regardless, this is not the first time there have been issues at ARDA.
“I have been here a year and a half and dealt with this issue from time to time. First there were some strikes there was a problem with the trade union, there was a problem with the subcontractor,” Ambassador Bayazit said, adding that recently there were a couple of workers who tried to ransack ARDA's site.
In March a Turkish worker was attacked at ADRA.
The project is coming to an end, and Ambassador Bayazit believes the company hired too many people for it, and so have had to let some go.
She said the management policy was “a little bit faulty” as there are many agitated people losing their jobs.
“At the moment they have 720 Ghanaian workers and 185 Turkish workers so in a couple of months they will have to let go of more Ghanaians, Turks are also coming and going all the time this is such work, you need manpower to a certain extent then you don't need them anymore.”
She believed these issues, and others between foreigners and locals through Ghana showed there was more that could be done in working environments that have both local and foreign workers.
“Both need to make sure there is labour peace at the place and introduce social programmes, cultural sharing, to talk about each others cultures, even the gestures. Maybe this is one thing lacking.”
“I think the Ghanaian authorities should advise the Ghanaian workers that they should also compromise with the foreign workers - it shouldn't be a one way thing it should be both ways.”
She also said it was important to understand in developing nations, to have access to foreign assets and investments foreign workers would be part of the parcel.
She added there seemed to be fears of foreigners working in Ghana and taking local jobs.
“But without this foreign presence, the presence of the foreign workers, you can not finish the projects. It's investment of the country, there are certain rules."