THE EARLY YEARS
Before the advent of the Port of Takoradi, there were surference ports sited at Cape Coast, Accra, Keta, Sekondi and Axim. Ships calling at these ports were anchored off shore and their cargoes transferred by means of lighters and surf boats. Owing to the dangerous surf, the surference ports were found to be unsuitable and also inadequate to cope with the fast expanding trade of the country. By 1919 it had become clear that the low capacity sailing ships with low draft could no longer cope with the heavy evacuation of Cocoa from the hinterland to the Ports of Accra, Winneba, Sekondi and Cape Coast. This necessitated the decision to build a deep sea harbour capable of accommodating high capacity iron ships then emerging from shipyards in Europe.
All the existing suferance Ports were considered for the construction of the deep water harbour. From December 1919 to June 1920, hydrographic surveys were conducted by the Government which was initiated by Sir Gordon Guggisberg and Takoradi was chosen as the suitable site. From 22nd February to 20th April 1921, a committee was appointed to consider and report on the selection of a site for the deep sea harbour of the country. The committee submitted its report to the Consulting Engineers Messrs Coode Matthews Pitts – Maurice and Wilson, who agreed that Takoradi was unquestionably the most suitable site for the deep sea harbour.
Despite pressures from England for the then Governor Sir Gordon Guggisberg to cut down on his Ten Year Development Plan stretching from 1919 to 1928 because of trade recession after the first world war, he retained the construction of the Port with two other projects namely, 4800 km motor roads construction and the Kumasi/Accra railway line in his development Plan. The funds for the three projects totalling about £12million were generated locally and farmers contributed a great deal of it.
Construction of the Port of Takoradi began in 1923 and was completed and officially opened on 3rd of April 1928 by Right Honourable J.H. Thomas, P.C LLD, MP. Secretary of State for the Colonies. Operations started on the 3rd of December 1928. The Port was constructed as the base of navy operations and trade and was capable of handling annually one million tonnes of cargo – both imports and exports. With the building of the harbour, the railways and harbour came under the joint administration of the Railway and Harbours Administration.
During this time, Governor Guggisberg had thought that the harbour with its three berths (i.e. the Manganese berth, Berths 2&3) and the buoy berths would be adequate for the future traffic. From 1949, however, congestion started taking place at the port due to economic development and expansion of industries as well as the growing import and export trade. Through the initiative of the then Governor, Sir Charles Noble Arden Clarke, the Port’s extension works were started in 1951 by Taylor Woodrow Engineering Company and were completed in 1956. The Lee Breakwater was extended, Berths 4, 5 and 6 were built as well as the Bauxite wharf with its aerial ropeway system, the passenger terminal, the oil wharf and Transit sheds 4, 5 and 6 were also built.
By 1983, the facilities at Takoradi Port had deteriorated as a result of lack of maintenance to the extent that its capacity was severely hampered. Cargo handling equipment had become obsolete with most of them broken down; some of the berths were occupied by wrecks, which made the Ports unsafe for ship navigation.
On 26th June 1986, under the Economic Recovery Government, the Ghana Ports Authority, Ghana Cargo Handling Company and Takoradi Lighterage Company were merged into one corporate body, The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority. In 1986, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority with the support of the Government of Ghana embarked on major rehabilitation of the Takoradi Port. The first phase of the rehabilitation project of Takoradi Port which cost US $35millionwas funded by the International Development Fund of the World Bank, the Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund of Japan and a grant from the Economic Development Fund of the European Union.
The Project included:
- The repair and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and facilities
- Removal of sunken vessels and other wrecks from the harbour basin
- Supply of equipment including floating crafts, cargo handling equipment and vehicles.
- Institutional strengthening involving technical strengthening of Management and training.
Following the successful implementation of the 1st phase, the NDC Government negotiated with the EU for additional grant of ¢5.5 billion, out of which the GPHA contributed 20% to complete the 1st phase of the rehabilitation of the Port of Takoradi.
Projects under the 2nd phase begun in 1991 and included the following:
- Dredging of the Port to the designed depths
- Rehabilitation of berths 2 and 3 for general cargo
- Completion of the rehabilitation of the West Lighter Wharf for Cocoa and Sawn timber
- Rehabilitation of the Sawn timber No 2.
- Pavement of adjacent areas
The 2nd phase of the project was completed on the 12th of May 1995.
The GPHA, with the support of the Government of the NPP embarked on an ambitious campaign to transform Takoradi Port into a modern port with modern facilities at the cost of two hundred and fifty million dollars ($250,000,000.00). the repair of the lee breakwater and dredging of the buoys from 10.4 m to 11.0 m. and berths from 9.5 m to 10.4 m were completed in 2002.
The initial capacity of the port was 1 million tones of cargo. With the first expansion in 1956 the port was able to handle 1,153 vessels carrying 2.3 million tons of cargo in 1964. The port in 2015 handled 27% of national seaborne traffic, 15% of national seaborne imports, 68% of national seaborne exports, 6% of National seaborne container traffic and 7% of transit traffic to the Sahelian countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Over the years vessel calls to the port has increased from 485 in 2003 to 1,525 calls in the 2015. The increase is attributed to the calls from Oil Supply vessels servicing the Jubilee Oil Fields at Cape Three Points. Since the discovery of oil in 2007, supply vessel calls have increased from 11% to 61% in 2015 of total vessel calls.
As part of meeting the growing demands of our customers, plans are underway to modernise and expand the port. The project involves the extension of the existing main breakwater to 1.75 kilometres northwards. There will be the provision of a bulk terminal/jetty to handle bulk commodities and dredging of the access channels. The berths will also be dredged to16 meters depth. Upon completion, Manganese, Bauxite, Clinker and Limestone and other bulk cargo operations will be transferred to the new jetty. There will be a dedicated berth with a depth of 10meters to cater for the oil supply activities. This will free the existing manganese terminal for the increasing oil services activities in the port. The project will also involve the reclamation of the log pond and the area would be used to construct a quay of length 1km and a depth of 16metres.
Highlights of the expansion:
- Access Channel dredged to 16metres
- Extension of Breakwater 1.08 Northward
- Construction of Bulk Terminals with 16meters depth
- Construction of oil services terminal
- Reclamation of 53,000 hectares of land
- Construction of open storage area for oil field, plant and machinery.
- Construction of dual access roads to the port.
CONTRIBUTION OF THE PORT OF TAKORADI
From 1928 to 1962 (a period of 34 years) when Tema Port was opened, the Port of Takoradi served as the main gateway to the country; handling imports, exports, passengers and also served as a base for naval operations for the country. It has over the years supported the revenue generating sector of the economy and has contributed immensely to the economy of Ghana. Takoradi Port has been the pivot of economic activities in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis and the Western Region as a whole by providing employment for the indigenes through the operation of support service providers in port operations especially through the Ghana Dock Labour Company Limited (GDLC).
In addition to the above, management of the port recognises the social contract between the port and the community in which it operates and thus honours its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In line with this, the port has been assisting in construction and rehabilitation of many schools, building of sanitary sites, donations to individuals, donations to hospitals and health posts and many charitable projects. The Port Clinic and Fire Services provides for the well-being of the Metropolis.