Accra, Dec. 16, GNA - The Board of Governors of the Regional Maritime Academy (RMA) on Friday began its 36th biannual meeting in Accra, with an appeal from the Board's new Chairman, Prof. Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi to member countries to avail themselves of the new courses of the Academy. Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi, who is the Minister of Harbours and Railways, observed that the introduction of new academic degree courses such as the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Arts in Ports and Shipping Administration would go a long way to meet the demands of the shipping industry.
He entreated member countries attending the three-day meeting to sponsor students from their respective countries to pursue the courses at the RMA saying it was comparatively cheaper than what existed in the European and other maritime training institutions. Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi also appealed to member States to consider the possibility of sending their naval cadets to the RMA for training as was being done by the Ghana Navy, which before then trained its personnel at the Indian Naval Academy.
He thanked the Iranian and Ethiopian Shipping Lines for accepting some of the Academy's cadets for shipboard training on their vessels, noting that securing shipboard training for cadets of the Academy after the completion of their courses as a result of the demise of the Black Star Line had become a serious challenge to the Academy. He expressed the hope that the gesture by the two shipping lines would be sustained as other opportunities were explored with Maersk Sealand and vessels flying Liberia flags.
H said if this succeeded, it would minimise the frustrations that the cadet went through after leaving the Academy. Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said a request had been made to the Ghana Education Trust Fund for financial support for a 50-room dormitory block to ease the accommodation of the students, whose population now stood at 883.
He announced that very soon the Ghana Water Company (GWC) would connect the Academy to a bigger pipeline, promising that he would ensure that the GWC performed that task within the first few months of his tenure as Chairman of the Board to increase the volume of water available to staff and students.
The Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi gave the assurance that Ghana would settle all outstanding contributions to the Academy in the first quarter of 2006 and congratulated the Gambia and Liberia that had made 100 per cent payments.
Sierra Leone on Friday made its final payment of 34,257 dollars after paying 60,000 dollars in June. Cameroon is yet to make any contributions.
The Principal of the Academy, Captain Aaron Obeng Turkson said 21 students were pursuing MA programmes; 745 are doing one of the four undergraduate programmes while 67 were pursuing certificate of competency courses.
He said there was a strain on the resources of the Academy and it consequently could only admit 40 students for the BSc Degree programme in Ports and Shipping Administration out of 400 applicants from Ghana. Capt. Obeng said the introduction of degree programmes in the Academy went without the normal capital investments in any educational institution, and added that actual contributions from member States to the Academy's annual budget had reduced considerably from 90 per cent to about 24 per cent despite the large increases in student population. The Principal expressed worry that unless the Board addressed the salary concerns of the staff with urgency, the Academy might lose some of them.
Mr Bala Jahumpa, outgoing Board Chairman, who is Secretary of State for Works Construction and Infrastructure Development of the Gambia, said with the coming into force of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping for Seafarers, it was necessary to adjust the Academy's curriculum so that seafarers aspiring to sit for various classes of certificate of competency examinations were adequately trained before the examinations.
Mr Jahumpa, whose statement was read by Mr Lamin Sanneh, his Permanent Secretary, said Secretaries and Ministers responsible for the marine sub-sector had a collective responsibility to ensure that the objectives set by the founding fathers of the RMA were both attained and sustained.
Mr Philip Lukuley, Executive Director of Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, called for the unflinching support of member countries of the Academy to the realisation of the Coastal Guard Network project. The project covers the 25-member states of the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) for the pursuit and maintenance of maritime security.
The project, he said, would go a great way in fostering "our avowed policy of regional integration for the pursuit of maritime development in our Sub-Region."
Mr Magnus Addico, Secretary General of MOWCA, announced that MOWCA was creating a Regional Maritime Bank that would provide adequate financing for projects in the maritime industry.
He said an evaluation study recently conducted by a team of MOWCA experts across the Sub-Region showed an overwhelming support for the Regional Maritime Bank.