Chamber of Shipping inaugurated; sets tone for maritime policy reforms

Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Shipping, Dr Kofi Mbiah, has underscored the need for a “deeper appreciation” of emerging trends and developments that have caused “cataclysmic changes” in the international maritime arena.

At the inauguration of the Ghana Chamber of Shipping, Dr Mbiah questioned the policy preparedness of the state to the imminent threat to maritime employment as a result of the emergence of autonomous ships as well as the risk of diversion of vessels and cargoes to unplanned destinations.

He also wants policies directed at marine ecosystem which is currently suffering loss of biodiversity resulting from dumping of over 8 million tons of plastic waste into the sea each year resulting in low catch by fishermen.

He maintains, “knowledge of the legal rules would go a long way in shaping maritime policy to deal with these emerging threats, challenges and opportunities.

Ghana’s maritime sector has witnessed increased activity since the discovery of oil and gas in 2007. These factors have been the main drivers of the expansion programmes at the Ports of Tema and Takoradi as demands on the port have continued to change at a fast pace.

The rise in economic activity and international business has also placed the country’s maritime industry on constant need for policy attention and review.

Dr Mbiah brought into sharp focus opportunities available and how Ghana has positioned itself to take advantage of the Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050 establishing the Exclusive Economic Zones for Africa. He also saw prospects for emerging economies’ efforts being made to power ships through renewable energy.

He said finding solutions to these issues underpin the establishment of the Chamber of Shipping to provide the expertise and share knowledge in shaping the maritime policy of the country for the growth and sustainability of the sector.

Minister for Transport and Guest of Honour for the occasion, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, said the formation of the Chamber of Shipping was long overdue as the dynamics of the maritime industry requires, “constant review of existing policies and the fashioning of same to keep pace with the ever-changing trends and developments.”

He implored the Chamber of Shipping to bring up policy initiatives that will propel the maritime sector and engender growth and prosperity of the country at large.

He pledged to enforce the Local Content Policy in the sector to reserve work meant for indigenes in accordance with international practice and existing regulation.

Chairman of the Ghana Chamber of Shipping, Mr Ben Owusu-Mensah, explained that the Chamber was neither a regulator nor representing Shippers or Shipping lines.

“The Chamber is a Think Tank for all interested groups and people with interest in shipping and other marine activities.”

He paid glowing tribute to the founding Executive Council members for their support to see to the realisation of the Chamber.

By Godfred Tawiah Gogo