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Business News of Sunday, 7 March 2004

Source: GNA

Port operators urge govt to speed up action on security

Tema, March 07, GNA - Operators of Tema and Takoradi ports have called on the government to speed up action towards the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code to enable Ghana to meet the deadline on security for ports worldwide. They made the call in a resolution adopted at the end of a five-day seminar on "Maritime Security" jointly organised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the Ministry of Ports, Harbours and Railways and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) for port operators in Tema.

The call, according to them was in view of the short period to the mandatory implementation date of July 1, 2004 and the deadline for all ports to put in place effective security measures to strengthen ship and port safety and security to prevent and suppress terrorist acts directed against ports or infiltrators.

The participants appealed to the IMO to continue offering technical assistance towards the implementation of the ISPS code.

Closing the seminar, Dr Gheysika A. Agambilla, Deputy Minister for Ports, Harbours and Railways said the human element was considered very crucial for the success of implementing the IMO instruments.

He gave the assurance of Ghana's preparedness to meet the deadline as factors were being gathered towards achieving the goal.

He said the National Maritime Security Committee would start work this week to advise on the appointment of security officers of the two ports while a maritime security co-ordinator would also be appointed by the Ministry to handle security matters under the supervision of the Shipping Commissioner.

Dr Agambilla said the policy of government to transform the ports into shipping gateways to West and Central Africa still remained and would work towards achieving it.

Following the September 11, 2001 tragic event, the international maritime community adopted new provision in the international convention for the safety of life at sea.

The International Ship and Port facility Security Code obliges ships and port facilities to take security measures at all levels leading to considerable tightening up of security in the world's ports including those of Ghana.