Accra, Sept. 28, GNA - The Ghana Martine Authority would soon embark on a rigorous enforcement of ship control measures to enhance maritime safety and security. The measure formed part of the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Port State Control, which Ghana is a signatory. Mr Issaka Peter Azuma, Director-General, Ghana Maritime Authority who announced this, said the exercise would be done jointly with regional maritime bodies to rid the region's ports of substandard ships, ensure compliance of international shipping requirements and protect lives and properties.
Addressing the fourth committee meeting of the (ABUJA MOU) on Port State Control, he said the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority would also be brought on board to streamline activities to reduce administrative overlaps and abuse of the relevant laws and regulations. The three-day meeting would discuss progress made by member countries in the implementation of maritime safety and security provisions as contained in the MOU adopted in 1999 and to identify problems that hindered its effectiveness. Nineteen member countries spanning West and Central Africa are attending the meeting, which is also expected to make recommendations and resolutions to be adopted and ratified by the Regional Ministers of Port and Harbour at their next meeting. Mr Issaka observed that it was economically viable to jointly carry out port control measures to reduce the risk of ships swapping countries.
Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Harbour and Railways, urged member countries to demonstrate the political will to implement provisions of the MOU to its hilt to ensure maritime safety and security across the Seb-Region. He expressed regret that since the inception of the MOU only a few countries had committed themselves to ensuring the full implementation of the provisions, adding, "Nigeria, Congo, Sierra Leone out of the 19 members states have so far fulfilled their financial obligations to the Abuja MOU. "It's also regrettable to note, that only six States out of the 19 African States that signed the MOU have deposited formal instrument of acceptance with the Secretariat," he said. Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi indicated that Ghana was unable to join other countries at the early stages of the MOU due to lack of implementing agencies, adding, "with the creation and operationalisation of the Ghana Maritime Authority she is now able to implement the provision's of the MOU in full". He said apart from the Sub-Region, all other regions in the world had very effective port State control saying as a result it is imperative to strengthen control mechanisms to drive away substandard ships, which would otherwise be dumped, in the Sub-Region. "The danger in allowing substandard ships in our Sub-Region is in the area of environmental destruction in an event of a major oil spillage from large tankers and also poses danger to properties at sea", he said. Mr B. O. Oluwole, General-Secretary of Abuja MOU, said the Secretariat would collaborate with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to enhance security in the maritime transport network and reduce the incidence of piracy and armed robbery on ships. He, therefore, called on member States to seriously examine their level of implementing the IMO security measures and to take the necessary corrective actions without delay. Mr Oluwole stressed on stringent Port State Control as a key tool in the battle against sub-standard ships, adding that it was a unique opportunity for the MOU to attain its objectives in a uniformed manner along with other MOUs on Port State Control across the world.