The Minister for Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, has charged the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) and the Ghana Shippers' Authority (GSA) to collaborate and spearhead the development of new policies capable of resolving the safety issues on the country's maritime domain.
The safety of Ghana’s maritime domain, he noted, is in the hands of the GMA and the GSA, further charging the two bodies to be proactive in dealing with the myriads of challenges currently confronting the maritime domain.
According to him, although there exists a number of policies or regulations that seek to protect Ghana’s maritime domain, they are not strong enough considering the development of new safety challenges.
Mr. Asiamah stressed that safety challenges such as piracy, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, illegal bunkering, ship-to-ship transfers, drug trafficking, pollution, transnational crimes, smuggling, absence of regulation for inland waterways and unchartered navigational fairways are critical issues that need immediate attention.
The situation, he noted, has a trigger effect on the cost of doing business in Ghana’s maritime domain and making it very expensive.
In pursuing the task, Mr. Asiamah wants the GMA and the GSA to deepen their collaboration with the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with expertise in maritime issues, academia, and organizations outside the country, in order to come out with a comprehensive policy framework to protect the country's maritime domain.
“Our maritime domain today is not something we should not talk about; it is not something pleasant for shipowners, international trade and like you know, about 90% of the world trade is done through shipping and shipping is done through seas and our seas are not safe. Because if a shipowner is bringing his ship into the waters, the challenge is that insurance cost has to go up and the shipowner will definitely transfer this cost to the shipper which invariably, the shipper will also transfer the cost to the consumer. This needs immediate attention”, he noted.
Mr. Asiamah made this observation in Accra last Friday, September 10, 2021, when he inaugurated the reconstituted Board of Directors of four key agencies under the Ministry of Transport namely; Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA).
Commenting further, the Transport Minister further urged the GMA and GSA to critically, also look at expanding physical infrastructure and the deployment of technology by deepening its relationship with the National Security, Navy, Marine Police, and the Ministry of Communications in addressing the challenge at hand.
He said once he has also assumed the role as a chair of MOWCA, he would ensure that Ghana also deepens its relationship with other countries and fosters partnerships in dealing with the myriads of challenges currently prevailing in the country’s maritime domain.
Another issue of critical concern, Mr. Asiamah noted, was the development of adequate rules and regulations to guide the country's maritime domain.
“I will propose that there should be a committee between GMA and GPHA, Shippers Authority, GIFF, GUTA and shipowners and some other people to come together to see how you can develop adequate rules and regulations to guide our industry. Because if you have an industry which though regulated but doesn't have adequate laws to deal with the issues, then it is our responsibility to cover the domain very well so that we don't leave things to the wills of people to decide that this is what I want to do because there are no adequate laws to protect the industry.”
“You should deal with these issues so that everybody will become confident. I don't want anybody to be cheated because the shipowners are complaining and like I said, the cost of doing business in our waters is becoming very expensive, and by so doing, transferring and increasing their costs at will. Yes, they must recover their cost, we agree with them because I don't want them to run into a loss so that they do not come into our country, but at the same time too, we must also try to protect the industry so that everybody is fairly covered”, he reiterated.
The Board Chair of the Ghana Shippers' Authority, Madam Stella Wilson, speaking on behalf of the Board of Directors of GMA, GSA said “we are ready for the challenge and the task at hand. We have been entrusted with a responsibility and we've been called to action. We have noted with keen interest what the Minister has told us and we are going to take our responsibility very seriously and make sure that those projects that we have been tasked to undertake, we work on then”.
She entreated all the directors to work as a team, stressing that their cooperation with management will enable them to achieve success.