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Press Releases of Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Source: Ghana Ports and Habour Authority

Re: Ship crews arriving at Ghana’s sea ports must go through testing

Ship crews arriving at Ghana’s sea ports must go through testing Ship crews arriving at Ghana’s sea ports must go through testing

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has taken note of a publication in the media alleged to be authored by the Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, the Hon. Kwabena Mintah Akandoh with regards to the above-mentioned subject. In the said publication, the author stated that no tests were conducted at the Seaports to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. Please note that the statements in the referenced publication on GhanaWeb is factually inaccurate. We would like to clarify the following:

1. A multi-stakeholder Covid 19 committee was instituted at the beginning of the year 2020 when news of the then epidemic started even before it became a pandemic and national protocols were put in place. The committee comprises of Stakeholders in the Maritime and Port Community began with Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Port Health, Immigration, Navy, National Security, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Meridian Port Services and Customs Division of GRA. This was later expanded to include a representative from Ghana Health Service. The committee has consistently operated to provide the regulations to the Port Community even before the first partial lockdown was imposed.

2. Based on the work of the committee, the Port Authority has from the onset of the Pandemic outlined and issued clear regulations to the business and general public with regards to Covid 19 protocols covering the various activities in the country’s Ports and Terminals. These regulations were communicated through letters, media houses and one-on-one education and sensitization programmes.

There are very clear and mandatory procedures for the reception of vessels and handling of crew embarkation and disembarkation in Ghana, which all shipping lines and the Port Community is apprised of and are adhering to. In this regard ship crew either embarking or disembarking vessels go through stated Covid 19 protocols. These protocols have long been in force since March 2020 and have been updated when required based on presidential directives.

Please note the regulations and industry procedures for embarkation and disembarkation.

EMBARKATION (ON SIGNERS)

• The local Shipping Agent officially writes to Immigration, Port Health, the Harbour Master and Head of Health Services GPHA, with supporting documents from Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), requesting for embarkation approval with requisite crew lists, crew bio data and other related documents. This is required 48-72 hours before the expected date for crew change.

• For crew arriving by air, Embarkation is facilitated after all COVID19 protocols at the Ghanaian Airport are met.

• All arriving crew members must also possess COVID-19 negative PCR test results from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin.

• GPHA Health Services facilitates crew change subject to the following as applicable:

1. Supporting COVID-19 clearance documents from the Ghana Airports, if the crew is joining from overseas. However, if the overseas crew extends their stay in Ghana and the airport PCR test expires, they are mandated to take and submit the results of new tests before Port entry and embarkation is allowed.

2. Requisite health and COVID-19 clearance certificates if the crew is locally based.

• Based on the above test results, the approved lists of the cleared crew members are circulated to the Harbour Master, Immigration and GPHA Security by GPHA Health Services for embarkation to proceed.

• Cleared crew members are subsequently given passes by Immigration to embark.

• The crew members are then transported to the vessel (if in port) or to join the vessel at the anchorage via a service boat arranged by the shipping Agent.

DISEMBARKATION (OFF SIGNERS)

a. The disembarkation procedures ensure that the Port Authority, Immigration, and Port health are updated on the categories of vessels approaching the country’s waters one week before arrival. The vessels fill and submit electronic Health declaration forms showing the crews health status on Covid-19 and other diseases; with subsequent updates daily until the vessel arrives.

b. The procedures ensure that the health status of all crew members who arrive in the country’s shores are reported, and all crew have the requisite health clearance documentation.

c. All Vessels whether from high-risk origins or not, whose crew members have symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness remain at the designated quarantine anchorage (QA) which is three (3) nautical miles away from the port; for Port Health and Medical Services personnel to retrieve samples for the required testing. If the test results are positive, a Covid-19 protocol is immediately activated where the patients are isolated in their cabins while still at anchorage. The GPHA Head of Health Services immediately notifies the Tema Metro Health Directorate and the Tema West Municipal Health Directorate who determine the requisite treatment or isolation centre based on the condition of the patient.

d. Per these arrangements and many more that were instituted by the Port Authority in liaison with the other maritime stakeholders, there is limited possibility for spread of COVID-19 in the country through the Seaports.

e. Please see below Covid-19 testing statistics from May 2020 to 5:00pm on Tuesday 4th May 2021. Samples taken from disembarking (Off Signing) crew members total 754 Negative and 14 Positive results. The Positive crew were treated at designated isolation and treatment centres and subsequently discharged.



It is unfortunate that information on Covid-19 protocols which are enforced in all the Ghana Sea Ports and terminals taking into cognizance the National regulations and Ghana Airport protocols, was not sought from the Port Authority and its stakeholder community. These protocols have been in implementation since March 2020 and are also in sync with the European Union (EU) guidelines and standard operating procedures for Seaports.

We reiterate that the Port Authority and the Port Community is resolved to ensuring that our Seaports as gateways remain safe and secure for Port users and Ghana as a whole.

For future related information needs or enquiries you are welcome to contact Dr Vitus Anaab-Bisi the GPHA Head of Health Services and the Incident Commander of the Port Community Covid19 Committee on +233 244 329 093.

SIGNED


ESTHER GYEBI-DONKOR (MRS.)
GENERAL MANAGER, MARKETING AND CORPORATE AFFAIRS
GHANA PORTS AND HARBOURS AUTHORITY (GPHA)

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