The Ghanaian trading community is calling on the President of the republic, Nana Akufo-Addo to announce officially, the opening of the sea borders, whilst relying on measures and protocols put in place by the regulatory agencies to effectively manage all arrangements to curb the importation and spread of COVID-19 in Ghana.
According to the experts, the seaports are not major routes for passenger transportation in Ghana since the cruise business is not that active in Ghana.
They cited that the major area of passenger movement through the Port is when crew members have to disembark for their changeovers, where already extensive protocols have been put in place to address so far.
Speaking to Eye on Port, on the Impact of the Reopening of the Airport on Land and Sea Trade, the President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Ghana, Ebo Hammond, revealed that the Ports of Ghana already have the procedures in place to effectively conduct safe crew changeovers of seafarers in the country. “The harbour area is not for ordinary passengers. It is only for the crew.
There are processes where they pass through and exchange and I know seafarers who have done this exchange,” he highlighted. Ebo Hammond, who is also a director at the Ghana Health Service and a member of the Ministry of Transport's advisory Board said the President would have to give a seal of approval to settle public uncertainty.
“It is left for the President to put a seal on it because if you are not a seafarer I don’t see why you’ll come by sea,” the CILT President emphasized.
The Executive Secretary of the Committee of Freight Forwarder Associations, and the Chairman of Customs Brokers Association of Ghana at the Kotoka International Airport, Nana Fredua Ofori-Atta, supported the appeal by the CILT President.
He said it does not have to be necessarily on the next televised communication to the nation, but a formal letter to the managing institutions and the public should suffice.
“I believe it shouldn’t even take the next address by the president on TV. The president can put it in writing and in consultation with the Ghana Maritime Authority and GPHA put his seal of approval on the measures we have put in place for seafarers to have their freedom,” he said.
Since countries closed their borders to human traffic when the coronavirus hit the world in astonishing fashion, it has been well reported that seafarers have suffered mental health problems after spending months on sea without being allowed on land.
It was reported that many seafarers suffered as far as being denied medical evacuation or access to ports across the world despite serious medical conditions. Efforts by the International Chamber of Shipping and other human right and labor organizations championed the need for new guidance for shipowners and operators and port authorities, to deal with seafarers especially the unwell ones.
It is believed that, in Ghana however, since the closure of borders to human traffic, the Ghana Maritime Authority and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, have in place certain protocols to conduct safe crew changeovers at the country’s ports.
The protocols include clear directions ship’s crew should undertake to declare intentions to ensure safe and monitored testing, quarantining and changeover procedures during arrival in Ghana’s ports and waters.