Tema, Oct. 20 GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday inaugurated the Quay Two Container Terminal to enhance the capacity of the Port to handle increasing traffic.
The Project, which cost 60 million Euros, included dredging the marine docks and other civil works. It would go a long way to transform the Port into a competitive maritime hub capable of effectively contributing to the overall national development process. The extension of Quay Two by 200 metres would enable the handling of bigger modern vessels and enhance the capacity of the Port to compete with other ports.
The container traffic through the Tema Port had increased steadily from 175,000 total equivalent units in 2001 to 340,000 units in 2004. President Kufuor said the existence of the terminal, and the availability of three ship-to-shore gantry cranes as well as four rubber-tyres gantries to facilitate the handling of containers of all sizes, confirmed Ghana's status as a major shipping hub in the West Africa Sub-Region enhancing trade with external partners.
He noted that the benefits from the container terminal were enormous, as that would further "our goal of becoming the main transhipment port of the Sub-Region and create jobs for the youth." President Kufuor noted with satisfaction that tariffs and duties collected would be a boost to the development agenda and the economy. He, however, impressed upon users of the Port not to undermine the gains made to construct the project and advised against corruption and malfeasance from the system.
President Kufuor said he was of the view that the completion of the Project was a big step to the realisation of the nation's ambition to become a major gateway.
He reiterated the need for Ghanaians to appreciate the purposeful and substantial developments taking place in the country to boost socio-economic development.
Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Harbours and Railways, said there was substantial private sector participation in the development of the Port.
He said recently, the A-P Moller Group agreed to establish a world-class hub for the North, West and Central Africa Sub-regions for which feasibility studies were underway, adding that the rail sector was not left out.
Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi indicated that efforts were far advanced for the enactment by Parliament of the Landlord Port Bill, which would ensure the transformation of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) into a Landlord Port Authority.
This, he said, would provide further opportunities for the private sector to play an increasing role in port operations. Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi gave the assurance that measures had been put in place to improve security and safety and to remove all other bottlenecks that bedevilled port operations.
The Sector Ministry, he said, had established an inter-sectoral oversight committee charged to make recommendations on ways of ensuring higher levels of efficiency, harmonising and streamlining activities as well as maximising bureaucratic procedures at the Tema and Takoradi Ports.
In a welcoming address, Mr Ben Owusu-Mensah, Director General of the GPHA, commended Messrs Interbeton, contractors of the Project, which started in April 2003, for its early completion within 18 months. He called for collaboration amongst all stakeholders at the Port to ensure that unscrupulous activities were curtailed; saying to avoid the diversion of transit goods, vehicles would be monitored to their final destinations.
Mr Owusu-Mensah announced that two tugboats would be commissioned soon to boost efficiency at the Port.