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06.07.2004 General News

House passes Maritime Security Bill

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Accra, July 6, GNA- Parliament on Tuesday, passed the Ghana Maritime Security Bill under a certificate of urgency, setting the tone for presidential assent for the Bill to become law.

This was after Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister for Ports, Harbours and Railways had moved a series of motions through the various states of the Bill.

Prof. Ameyaw-Ekumfi noted that the bill, when passed into law, would mean that Ghana was complying with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), which came into force as a result of the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States.

He said already Ghana was behind time as the deadline for member nations of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had up to July 1, 2004, to comply with the ISPS.

"We have put all the necessary measures in place to ensure compliance to the ISPS except the passage of the Bill into an Act of Parliament to give legal backing to the compliance," he said.

"I therefore appeal to members to give their support to the bill."

In its report, the Parliamentary Committee on Roads and Transport noted that the bill was meant to create the requisite legal framework to enable government agencies, ship owners and port authorities in Ghana to take appropriate measures to detect and prevent unlawful acts that could threaten the security of ports and ships engaged in international trade. This, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Kwabena Sarfoh, said would give an assurance to the international community that Ghana had taken measures to ensure the safety of foreign ships in the waters of the country.

"The implementation of the ISPS would attract foreign ships to call at the ports of Ghana and thereby increase the country's revenue generation," he said.

"It would also facilitate exchange of security information between member countries of the IMO."

Mr. Edward Salia, NDC-Jirapa noted that it was important to extend a similar measure to improve security in the aviation industry, as there were similar security threats, especially in the light of the infamous September 11 terrorist attack on the US.