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20.07.2004 Business & Finance

Ameyaw-Akumfi urges maritime experts to ensure security of cargo

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Tema, July 20, GNA -- Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways, on Tuesday called on experts in the maritime industry to ensure that transportation of cargo is planned properly to enhance trade and economic benefits to the citizens and the business community.

He asked the experts to be mindful of the changing trends in the maritime industry and to put in their expertise in securing cargoes to their destinations since bad packaging of manufactured products resulted in loss of business and investment.

''With the changing trends in the industry countries are now shifting to the containerisation of their import and export of cargoes in order to maximise economies of scale and security of cargoes....''

The Minister made the call in a speech read on his behalf at a four-day workshop for port maritime experts drawn from the sub-region. The workshop organised by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), in conjunction with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the Regional Maritime Academy is aimed at enhancing the capabilities of personnel involved in the packing and securing of cargoes in Cargo Transport Units (CTUs).

The participants are drawn from Ghana, Cameroon, Cote D'Ivoire, Senegal, Togo, the Gambia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria and would deliberate on topics such as "basic principles on safe transport/packing of cargoes and the legal requirements and the magnitude of forces on cargoes during road, rail and sea transport.

He said changes in the maritime transport technology called for a new management system.

''The introduction of the container has therefore been at the centre of the growth and development of advanced mechanisation and Information Technology that have developed to define the character of modern port operation.''

Captain (Mrs) Georgina Tackie, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Regional Co-ordinator, said inspections had shown that cargoes were often not properly stowed or sufficiently secured inside containers, road vehicles or other types of cargo units.

Cargo that became loose inside cargo units often damaged or broke out of the cargo units and "this type of accident is hazardous for ships carrying dangerous goods."

She said in the past the perception of containerisation as a safe means of carriage of goods had changed due to the increase of accidents encountered by stevedores in the handling of such units during stuffing/loading or handling.

She said the vulnerability of cargo containers had therefore been the focus of international policy since the September 2001 atrocities in the United States.

Capt (Mrs) Tackie was not happy that though security on ships and at ports was being strengthened in recent years by the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code little had been done to address inland security risks relating to cargo containers.

To this end, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations had called on all organisations associated with Trade and Facilitation to review their procedures in handling containers in terms of security and safety.

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