Feature Article of Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Columnist: Dailypost

Mills' Achievements Galore!

…In the Maritime and Inland Waterway sub-sectors

On the trail of President Mills' unprecedented achievements in the Transport sector, the Maritime and Inland Waterway sub-sector also received a lot of attention just like the Aviation sub-sector. Millions of Ghana cedis was pumped into this sector to boost Ghana's economy in just under three and a half years. The phenomenal achievements recorded in this sector in the in-depth analysis you are about to read bare testimony to the able administration of President Mills. The maritime industry like aviation is experiencing significant growth. Also on the wake of the oil find, there is pressure on the existing port facilities to accommodate the increase in traffic especially the supply vessels that ply between the Port and the oil field.

Comparable cargo traffic handled for both Ports up to September this year and the same period in 2010 shows an increase of 24% over last year's. Similarly, container traffic also shows an increase of 26% over that of last year. To respond to the growing needs of the maritime industry, the Ministry is on course to implement major expansion works at the seaports of Tema and Takoradi. Pending the expansion works, the GPHA has this year committed substantial investment to upgrade, rehabilitate or replace existing facilities at the seaports to ensure safety of cargo and ships at the ports, improve the delivery of cargo and vessel services to shippers and ship-owners as well as provide better and hygienic conditions for our fishing community. To this end the following principal projects have been provided or are ongoing at the seaports:

1. Upgrading of the Closed-Circuit Television system [CCTV] to cover the entire main seaport of Tema including the Golden Jubilee Terminal at a cost of about US$3million.

2. Provision of Traffic Lights at the principal road intersections around the Tema Port to control and manage traffic into and out of the seaports at a cost of almost GH¢700,000.00

3. Deployment of over 25 new operational plant consisting of reachstackers, tractors, and forklifts of various sizes costing well over US$3million.

4. Supply contracts for the supply of new marine craft to include a Tugboat, Security Patrol and Rescue boat as well as Pilot launch, all costing over US$10million.

5. Works contracts to dredge and reconstruct the canoe basin of the Tema Fishing Harbour at a cost of about GH¢7million.

6. Installation of Four new weighbridges and upgrading of four old ones at a cost GH¢350,000.00 at the port to ensure that loaded trucks from our ports stay within the permissible axle load limits on our roads.

The proximity of Takoradi Port to the current oil fields makes her the priority of the Ministry in our ports expansion programme. Accordingly the GPHA has engaged engineering consultants, Messrs SellHorn Ing. & Hamburg Port Consultants (HPC), to review the detailed design proposals for the proposed expansion of Takoradi Port for works to commence early next year under the China Development Bank Corporation (CDB) loan facility for the Phase 1 expansion works. The works under this first phase will include the following principal items:

· An extension of the existing breakwater to create additional harbour basin for the berthing of ships.

· Dredging of the additional harbour basin to provide for the intake of bigger ships drawing 14m of water or more.

· Construction of dedicated bulk cargo jetty for the handling of manganese, bauxite, cement and oil.

· Construction of additional quay length for the berthing of more ships principally the several supply vessels calling at the port.

· Reclamation of the sea to create operational areas for the oil & gas activities to include fabrication and workshop yards.

Simultaneously engineering Consultants have been engaged with support from the Dutch government to prepare a Master Ports Development plan to guide the Ministry in the utilization of our coastline for purposes of providing marine services to shippers.

The Ministry is currently in discussion with the Ministry of Agriculture in respect of the proposed development of a number of fish landing sites from Axim to Keta. The 24% increase in port traffic has equally resulted in an increase in the number of dock labour, truck drivers and driver mates, plant operators, warehouse operators, food vendors and other support services engaged in our marine industry. This is very obvious especially around the Port City of Tema. Additionally the ports engaged directly a total of 192 staff to beef up her manpower strength to handle the increased port traffic. In addition, Government has signed an MOU with the South Korean Government to assist with the construction of a Deep Sea Port to support the future needs of the oil & gas industry. A feasibility study on the project is on-going and will be completed next year.

Similarly, Government has also signed an MOU with Lonrho of U.K. to carry out a feasibility study with the aim of establishing an Oil Service Terminal to complement the Ports in the handling of the oil & gas activities. In line with the increase in traffic growth as well as the oil & gas activities, the Ghana Maritime Authority has reviewed its existing laws to incorporate activities of the oil find. These Acts include:

· Ghana Shipping (Amendment) Act, 2011

The existing Ghana Shipping Act imposes restrictions on the trading of foreign registered ships in Ghanaian waters by preserving local trade to Ghanaian ships. However, the current definition of Ghanaian waters is limited to the 12 Nautical Miles (NM) territorial sea.

This amendment will extend the definition of Ghanaian waters to include the waters within the 500 meter safety zone generated automatically around installations in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and provide a permitting regime for foreign ships trading within Ghanaian waters when necessary.

· Ghana Maritime Authority (Amendment) Act, 2011

This amendment will enhance the Ghana Maritime Authority's role and provide the requisite mandate to enhance the revenue base of the Authority.

· Ghana Maritime Security (Amendment) Act, 2011

This amendment will also extend the scope of application of this Act to cover offshore oil or gas installations beyond the territorial sea. It will also incorporate audit and inspection provisions for foreign-registered ships, Mobile Offshore Drilling Units and offshore installations in Ghanaian waters.

More significantly, to prevent marine source pollution and protect the Marine environment, a comprehensive Marine Pollution Bill has been developed and finalized for passage into Act.

The GMA has conducted Port State Control on 222 vessels that called at the Ghanaian Ports. The Port State Control Inspection is to ensure that vessels that call at the Ports of Ghana are seaworthy and operate in compliance with safety, security and marine environment pollution prevention.

The Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport obtained Parliamentary approval for a loan facility of €16.63million to procure and operate a Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMIS) to ensure comprehensive surveillance of Ghana Maritime domain. The VTMIS has been procured and necessary steps are being put in place for its installation.

The Authority with approval from IMO has established an Area To Be Avoided (ATBA) in the Jubilee fields to enhance safety of navigation and ensure security of installations.

The Ghana Maritime Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare and with partnership from the United Nations Development Programme embarked on a programme to create enabling environment for Ghanaian seafarers to access jobs in the international Maritime industry.

In this regard, the Authority has established a seafarer electronic data base to facilitate online verification of certificate of Competence issued to Seafarers.

Also, the European Maritime Safety Agency undertook an audit of the Authority's examination and certification system to test Ghanaian's compliance with requirements of Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention. This audit will pave the way for Ghanaian seafarers to be employed on European-flagged ships. In order to facilitate improved shipping services, the Ghana Shippers' Authority is undertaking the following projects:

· Takoradi Logistics Platform Project During the year, the Ghana Shippers' authority commenced the development of the Takoradi Logistics Platform. The Platform will provide warehousing facilities and facilitate the provision of ancillary services for the oil & gas industry and also create employment avenues for about 100 Ghanaians.

Specific works that have been undertaken include the completion of a perimeter fence wall and grading of roads, commencement of the construction of warehousing facilities, installation of high tension power lines and drilling of a borehole to supply water to the project site.

· Accra Shippers' Centre Project

The Ghana Shippers' Authority has secured a loan facility of six million dollars to assist in the construction of the Accra shippers' Centre which is currently under construction. The Centre which is an eleven-storey project is located in the Central Business District of Accra. It will house the GSA's corporate Head Office as well as other corporate bodies who will rent office space. It is also intended to be a one-stop-shop facility for commercial shipping activities including brokerage services.

· Extension of services to shippers in some parts of the country During the year, the Ghana Shippers' Authority formally extended its services to shippers located in some parts of the country through the:

a. Inauguration of Upper West Regional Shipper Committee;

b. Opening of its fourth Shipper Complaints and Support Unit at the Aviance Cargo Village of the Kotoka International airport; and

c. Establishment of a Border Trade Information Centre (BTIC) at the Aflao border post in collaboration with the West Africa trade Hub (WATH).

These activities are geared at not only facilitating the day-to-day business of shippers but also providing importers and exporters with much needed information and assistance to enable them to cut down on the cost of doing business and ultimately increase their competitiveness on the world market.

· Boankra Inland Port Project:

This is a facility intended to help decongest the Ports and facilitate Transit trade. The GSA has intensified its search for a strategic partner to undertake the development of the entire Boankra Inland Port project on Build Operate and transfer (BOT) basis. The estimated amount of funds required to undertake the development of the Inland port is USD250million. Key to the development of this project is the efficient operation of the defunct Eastern Railway Line. The Government is making efforts to rehabilitate this line.

In view of the challenge of finding strategic partners, the GSA has taken a decision to pursue the development option of allotting the various components of the master plan to private investors. Very soon, advertisements will be made in the media for interested investors to participate.

Under the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) project, one (1) new Ferry has been constructed awaiting commissioning whilst the other ferry will be completed next year to improve services at the Adawso - Ekye-Amanfro crossing.

The Ministry of Transport, on behalf of VLTC, has obtained a World Bank loan facility and procured eight (8) Main Engines and eight (8) Auxiliary Engines to refurbish the old ferries which will improve ferry services at the following crossing points: Yeji, Dambai and Kpando-Torkor.

Under the CDB credit facility, ferries will also be deployed to Dzemeni and Tepa Abotoase. The Volta Lake Enhancement Project has improved the lives of the people living in communities around the Volta Lake. Over 3,700 lives have been saved by Life Guards in both major and minor accidents this year.

Also, over 19,000 life jackets have been donated to members of various communities located along the banks of the Lake. Just recently, after the 6th September, 2011 boat disaster at Sene in the Brong Ahafo Region, 3,000 life jackets were distributed to Boat Operators and members of the Tepa Abotoase community. Lake Guards also provide passengers who are travelling by boats on the Lake with life jackets. The Project currently operates in twenty-six (26) district. Presently, the project engages eight thousand, four hundred (8,400) in the various regions of operation.

In response to the needs of the oil & gas find, the Regional Maritime University undertook the provision of training facilities for the training of students to meet the essential capacity required for the industry.

The Ministry utilized funds under the Transport Sector Project to procure 8No. Main Engines and 8No. Auxiliary Engines to be used to repower VLTC Ferries. The engines have been delivered and currently at the Akosombo Port awaiting installation onto the Ferries.

Following Cabinet decision for Government concluded the take over the 60% share of the PSC Tema Shipyard & Drydock owned by the Malaysian counterpart.

In this regard, the Government is negotiating with the Malaysian partners to take over their 60% shares in the company to revamp it to play its expected role in the maritime industry. Two ferries have been built for use on the Volta Lake by the Volta Lake Transport Ltd. Under the MIDA Project.