The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has warned that some 247 Ghanaian registered ships risk losing their licences to fly Ghana’s flag if they are unable to clarify their statuses by the end of August this year.
In the maritime business, ‘clarify’ means the regulatory authority, in this case, the GMA should be informed periodically whether or not a ship is still in operation.
The exercise is to delete inactive Ghanaian registered vessels from the national ship register to ensure that the country does not pay fees to the International Maritime Authority (IMO) for ships that are not operational yet remain on the register.
It is also a continuation of a similar exercise started in November last year to help rid the register of inactive ships.
The Director General of GMA, Mr Kwame Owusu, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that that exercise saw the deletion of 69 Ghanaian flagged ships from the register.
He said as a result, about 341 ships were currently on the national Ghana register.
Mr Owusu was confident that ship and vessel owners will respond positively to current call on them to clarify the statuses of their ships.
In the maritime business, vessels are mandated to periodically clarify their operational statuses to the regulatory authority to enable it to know if they are still active.
Need for exercise
Annually, the country pays fees to the IMO based on the size of the tonnage of its ship register for being a member of the organisation.
Towards that end, the DG of the GMA said it was not reasonable for the country to continue to pay fees to the IMO on vessels whose present statuses were not readily available to the authority.
That, Mr Owusu said, informed the decision to undertake the register cleaning exercise.
Mr Owusu said the exercise was in accordance with the GMA’s legal obligation.
As a result, failure to oblige to the second chance, the registrar of ships is mandated by section 10 of the Ghana Shipping Act, 2003 (Act 645) to cancel the registration of such ships from the authority’s books.
“As an authority, we have documents on the vessels, so we know whether they are in operations or not.
These vessels we are talking about might have either left the shores of Ghana unreported or sunk into the sea.
“So, in order not to pay fees on vessels that are no more in operations, we must try as much as possible to get the accuracy on our ship register,” he said.
He indicated that the authority would go ahead with a gazette notice and give owners of the vessels a final period to clarify the status of their ships or else they would be removed from the ship register.
“So far, about 172 vessels are involved in this exercise but those we have closed down their registrations in the first publications will be added to the list to be gazetted, in order to be able to cancel all of them after the August ending deadline.”