Tema, April 27, GNA - Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways on Monday called on the International Committee on Seafarers Welfare to encourage its members to upgrade their professional knowledge at the Regional Maritime Academy (RMA) so as to enhance their marketability.
He said very soon seafarers would not have to pay huge sums of money to recruitment agencies in order to be engaged because the new Ghana Shipping Act has made provision for a licensing regime for seamen's recruitment.
"When this happens, competency and marketability comes into play and it was when knowledge is upgraded at the Academy that they will be qualified to get employment," he added.
The Minister was addressing a two-day meeting of the third Regional Welfare Committee of the International Committee on Seafarers' Welfare under a West African Seafarers Welfare programme.
He said government would continue to absorb nearly 60 percent of the budget of the RMA in recognition of the important role played by seafarers in the socio-economic development in the country.
Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi said the new shipping act which replaces the Merchant Shipping act of 1963, allows Ghanaians to form joint ventures with foreign companies for foreign ships to be registered in the country.
"With this innovation, Ghana's tonnage will increase and definitely result in high employment opportunities for Ghanaian seafarers", he stated.
This is a departure from the old act, which restricted only Ghanaian ships from being registered in Ghana. He entreated the meeting to come up with a workable programme for the benefit of seafarers to help improve the shipping industry in the sub-region.
Reverend Cadman Sakyi Appiah, Regional Coordinator of the Programme, said the meeting aimed at addressing the needs of the seafarers and service providers.
He asked participating countries to communicate regularly with the Regional Coordinating office by submitting periodic reports that could be factored in the framework of the regional work programme. Delegates to the meeting came from nine West African Countries representing various organisation that provided welfare services to seafarers.