Ghana calls for enforcement of maritime regime in sub-region

By
Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA

Accra, March 28, GNA – Vice President Dr
Mahamudu Bawumia has said shipping is indispensable to international trade as
most countries worldwide rely on seaborne transport for export and import of
goods and services.

He said it also played a significant role in
the functioning of the global economy.

He, therefore, urged the West and Central African
countries that had signed the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to
co-operate effectively in ensuring the compliance and enforcement of the Port
Sate Control regime.

Vice President Bawumia made the remarks at the
opening of the Third Ministerial Conference of Abuja Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) on Port State Control (PSC) for West and Central Africa, in Accra, on
Wednesday

He encouraged them to tighten measures
whenever they were carrying out port control inspections on ships that berthed
at their seaports for business transactions to ensure that only seaworthy ships
operating in accordance with the standards set in the maritime safety, security
and marine environment pollution prevention would be entertained.

The maritime conference was jointly organised
by the Ministry of Transport, the Ghana Maritime Authority and the Abuja MoU
Secretariat on the theme: ‘‘Tightening the Net: Regional Co-operation to
Eliminate Sub-Standard Shipping”.

It brought together maritime administrators,
policy-makers and maritime experts from the West and Central African
sub-region, to brainstorm on strategies to improve maritime safety and to help
eliminate sub-standard shipping.

The MoU on PSC was signed in 1999 in Abuja,
Nigeria and covers 22 countries stretching from Mauritania, Cape Verde, Cote,
d’lvoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe to South
Africa.

So far, 15 of those countries are now full
members of the MoU.

The Abuja MoU basically provides for the
inspection of foreign ships in other national ports to determine the compliance
level of the ships with the requirements of international conventions and codes
governing maritime safety, marine pollution and the living and working
conditions of seafarers on board.

Vice President Bawumia said 90 per cent of
African import and export was conducted by maritime transport and considered
most energy efficient and sustainable means of transport.

Therefore, the Government of Ghana accepted to
play host to the conference as a test to her commitment to regional and
international co-operation and resolved to collaborate in enhancing global
maritime trade.

“We are here today because we share a common
interest and common purpose because we are all coastal states endowed with huge
marine natural resources.

With this lesson, it is our responsibility to
protect our marine environment from pollution,” he said.

Dr Bawumia told the gathering that, it was the
responsibility of the member countries to promote improved living conditions of
shipboard officers and crew to work efficiently towards achieving the objectives
of the Abuja MoU.

He said promotion of seaborne trade was
fundamentally important to sustainable growth as outlined in the African
Union’s 2015 Integrated Maritime Strategy.

The Vice President noted that compliance with
the Port Control measures by the member countries would help in achieving the
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring sustainable
development of the sub-region.

He applauded the International Maritime
Organisation for its invaluable assistance in the development of sub-regional
capacity for ensuring safe and secured maritime environment.

Mr Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah, the Minister of
Transport, in his welcome address, said maritime transport was the backbone of
international trade and central to sustainable global socio-economic
development and growth.

He said over the years, the growth in
international trade and the servicing requirements of modern logistics system,
especially the shipping chain placed increasing pressure on profits of ship
owners.

Therefore, some ship owners in their quest for
profits adopted strategies aimed at evading and undermining international best
practices.

In that regard, he said the International
Maritime Organisation had adopted regulations and standards in international
instruments such as SOLAS, MARPOL and STCW as well as the International Labour
Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention to create a level playing field for
ships to operate in a safe, secure and efficient manner.

He said the Accra Conference was expected to
help find solutions to various challenges faced in the sub-region with regards
to the effective implementation of Port State Control procedures by working
together and joining forces in data sharing, access to information,
transparency, uniform and effective implementation of standards

Mr Asiamah, therefore, urged member countries
to re-affirm their commitment geared towards achieving the objectives of the
Abuja MoU.

GNA

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