The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has asked countries that have signed the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to co-operate effectively in ensuring the compliance and enforcement of the Port State Control regime.
The agreement which is meant for West and Central African countries seeks to develop a system of harmonised port state control inspection procedure for the region.
It is aimed to reduce and eventually eliminate sub-standard shipping, prevention of marine pollution and improvement of the living and working conditions of seafarers aboard ships.
Dr Bawumia, who made the remarks at the opening of the Third Ministerial Conference of Abuja MoU on Port State Control (PSC) for West and Central Africa in Accra, observed that shipping played a significant role in the functioning of the global economy.
“Shipping is indispensable to international trade as most countries worldwide rely on seaborne transport for export and import of goods and services,” he stated.
Ensuring sub-standard shipping
The Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr Chibueke Rotimi Amaechi, said while it was important to ensure that sub-standard shipping was eliminated from African seas, it was also important to pay attention to the proficiency of the ship and crew.
He noted that sub-standard ships would clog the coastlines of member states with attendant ecological consequences and damage to the marine environment.
He said the deployment of various methods, such as regional training workshops by the Abuja MoU, were to ensure that port state control inspections were carried out in uniform manner in the region, as well as the adaptation of uniform detention mechanisms.
The Assistant Secretary-General, who represented the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr Lawrence Barchue, noted that the Abuja MoU had contributed to ensuring that ships that set out from the region presented no apparent risk to safety of life at sea and the environment.
The Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Mr Kwame Owusu, said the essence of port state control was to ensure that maritime species were protected from contamination by pollution and to ensure that ships that operated on the region’s waters were safe to protect human life and property.
He noted that the arrangement under the Abuja MoU where ships inspected in a member state would not be re-inspected at the next port of call within a specified timeframe complimented Ghana’s drive for port efficiency.
Backbone of international trade
The Minister of Transport, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, said maritime transport was the backbone of international trade and central to sustainable global socio-economic development and growth.
He observed that over the years, the growth in international trade and the servicing requirements of modern logistics system, especially the shipping chain, placed increasing pressure on profits of shipowners.
“Therefore, some shipowners, in their quest for profits, adopted strategies aimed at evading and undermining international best practices,” he stated.
In that regard, he said the IMO had adopted regulations and standards in international instruments such as SOLAS, MARPOL and STCW, as well as the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention to create a level-playing field for ships to operate in a safe, secure and efficient manner.
Mr Asiamah, therefore, urged member countries to re-affirm their commitment towards achieving the objectives of the Abuja MoU.