Minister calls for decent work in the maritime industry
Nungua (G/A), May 22, GNA- The Minister of Ports Harbours and Railways, Professor Christopher Ameyaw Ekumfi, on Friday said it needs the commitment of the government, employers and employees to put maritime industry on a sound footing. This, he said, is a challenge to governments to ensure that Maritime Conventions are ratified and effectively implemented. This was contained in a speech read for him at the ninth Quadrennial Delegates Conference of the Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU) of the TUC, with the theme "Promoting Decent Work principles in the Maritime Industry, a challenge to social partners".
The Minister said there was the need for countries, which have already ratified International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Maritime Instruments to bring working and living conditions in line with the standards through an update or revision of national laws and regulations. This, he said would ensure uniformity, equity and afford protection to workers in the maritime industry as they are assured of fair opportunity and treatment irrespective of where they are, provided they have the requisite skills. He said concerns about employment creation in the industry, workers rights, social protection and dialogue should be mainstreamed in conformity with national policies. He said there were measures to update the Ministry's obligations in the maritime with regards to regulations and conventions.
The Minister said it has linked up with the Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice to come up to date the Ministry's commitments on the ISPS Code, which is the landmark regulation for Port Security worldwide. Professor Ameyaw-Ekumfi stressed the need for governments to create employment opportunities and take measures to secure and maintain a national maritime skills base.
Governments must also have sound maritime administrations, firm legislative frameworks, strong enforcement and monitoring organism. To this end, Flag and Port states should also ensure that under the national laws, compliance by shipping companies are enforced strongly to assist and eliminate abuses in the maritime industry. He announced that the sector Ministry would soon announce the Maritime Development Authority and the Board of Directors to ensure compliance of all maritime laws.
The Minister said Tema port would soon under go a number of developments to accommodate two "second-generation" container vessels. The project would take two years to complete and is being funded by the Dutch and Ghana Governments. He announced that a Container Devanning Area, outside the bonded area of Tema Port, is also being developed by a private investor and this facility would relocate imported vehicles and inspection of imported cargo outside the bonded area to make space for the efficient handling of group-age containers inside the port.
The Minister said cargo volumes at the port have doubled over the years thus increasing container movements from 160,000 to 30,000 whilst transit cargoes have increased from 150,000 metric tonnes to 800,000 metric tonnes.