Thomas K. Alonsi, Director General of Ghana Maritime Authority

The Ghana Maritime Authority says there is no noticeable reduction in cargo vessel traffic to the country yet, despite growing fears of a global recession and shortage of food and other essential goods.

The Deputy Director, Ship Inspections & Marine Security at GMA, Captain Emmanuel Ankamah, said this when the Director General of the Authority, Thomas Kofi Alonsi, visited the Tema port.

He said the figures show that despite lockdowns across the world, cargo ships have continued to call at Ghana’s ports.

As part of government’s response to the outbreak of the coronavirus in Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced the closure of Ghana’s borders. Cargo ships were, however, exempt.

The GMA, which regulates the maritime industry in Ghana, issued guidelines – that mirror similar ones issued by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – to all port authorities to ensure that while ships come in, no crew imports the deadly coronavirus into the country.

Mr Alonsi, his two deputies in charge of operations and technical and finance and administration, Messrs Daniel Appianin and Yaw Akosa Antwi respectively, Director, Finance, Dr Kwasi Wereko Awuah, and Deputy Director, Environment & Safety Standards, Captain Inusah Abdul-Kadir, were at the Tema Port to assess the level of compliance with the directives given.

Captain Ankamah, who heads the Tema office of GMA, told the managers the limited but critical staff working were properly attired and briefed on the safety protocols to observe in carrying out their inspections and survey duties.

Mr Alonsi and his team also met with his counterpart, Michael Luguje at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).

Michael Luguje, the DG of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority

Mr Luguje said the GPHA had in response to the virus and in compliance with the directives issued by the GMA, invested heavily in safety protocols and procedures.

As part of the measures, he said the Port Health Authority was mandated to go to the anchorage and screen the crew onboard ships coming to the country for symptoms of the virus.

He said even though there were a number of false alarms, all the people they took samples of, tested negative for the virus.

According to him, on one occasion the GPHA had to refuse entry for a ship from a particular country, expressing delight that the systems put in place have so far worked well.

The GPHA boss affirmed Captain Ankamah’s assessment that vessel traffic had remained stable, explaining this was not too surprising because of the nature of shipping. He prayed the global infections peter out soon to prevent any likely future disruptions.

Mr Alonsi praised the GPHA for both their efforts and cooperation and assured them of GMA’s support wherever necessary.

He said it was absolutely important that the two bodies remained vigilant in the exercise of their mandate “so that we can continue to keep our people and our country safe.”