A UK-based NGO, the Nautical Institute, has honoured the Ghana Maritime Authority for its efforts in repatriating stranded seafarers from and back to Ghana.

 The Institute, with consultative status at the International Maritime Organisation, presented a citation to the Authority “in grateful recognition of your hard work, commitment and personal sacrifice in serving the needs of your fellow citizens around the world.”

Speaking at a short ceremony in Accra, the branch Secretary of the Nautical Institute, Captain William Amanhyia, explained the Ghana Maritime Authority and Captain Joshua Nii Addo were honoured for their “pivotal role in facilitating and handling crew changeover during the pandemic.”

He said in the wake of travel restrictions imposed by country to stem the spread of the Coronavirus, the International Maritime Organisation and the Internal Labour Organisation made urgent calls to countries to make exceptions for seafarers.

“A number of organisations and individuals in some countries responded to the calls of desperate seafarers and thus emerged as crew change hubs where private and public sectors came together to make seafarers movement far easier.

“Ghana has become one of such a hub where individuals have collaborated with local authorities to lift restrictions regarding crew transfer,” he stated.

Nautical Institute honours Maritime Authority for repatriating stranded seafarers

The Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Mr Thomas Kofi Alonsi said even though the Authority was simply performing its duty, it was grateful for the recognition.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic has plunged seafarers around the world into an unprecedented and desperate situation with more than 200,000 seafarers stranded on ships waiting to be repatriated.

“A majority of these stranded seafarers have exceeded the stipulated twelve months maximum at sea as adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO); this is as a result of border closures and visa requirements which have made crew changes impossible.

“It is sad to say that children have been born, naming ceremonies, birthdays, graduation ceremonies, weddings and other important milestones have been missed, thus causing pain, anxiety, frustration and more importantly fatigue among these essential workers whose work propel the world’s economy and provide the world with the most basic necessities of life ie food, water, medicines and others,” he stressed.

Mr Alonsi thanked President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for his government for swift response whenever a request is made for a permit for an aircraft to land for crew changes to take place.

Nautical Institute honours Maritime Authority for repatriating stranded seafarers

“I must say that this would not have been achievable without the President’s personal commitment of ensuring that the shipment of food, medicines, building materials and other essential goods into the country is not unduly hampered.

“Mr. President, thanks for the compassionate and caring leadership you have provided in these trying times. To the President, GMA says ayekoo!

The Director General assured that the “Authority will continue to ensure the welfare of seafarers as part of its mandate and we will continue to cement the reputation of the maritime industry in Ghana as the safest, most proactive and efficient industry on the African continent.

“This is a solemn pledge we make to our seafarers, without whose contributions the world’s economy would have ground to a halt.”