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Persistent corruption in maritime sector hindering trade, development

BY: Elizabeth Nyaadu Adu

The Deputy Director-General of Finance & Administration at the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Yaw Akosa Antwi, has said corruption in the maritime industry will persist due to the nature of the shipping industry.

He mentioned, for instance, the absence of published Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) and fee schedules as some of the fertile grounds for corruption adding that, there are also issues of multiple officials enjoying broad discretionary powers.

He said these fragmented and impervious nature of the shipping industry made fighting corruption difficult as it portends a multidimensional challenge that required an all-inclusive solution.

Speaking at the opening of the Global Best in Vessel Clearance Workshop in Accra today, he said “it is therefore essential for the public and private sector as well as other actors to collaborate and align standards thereby mitigating the corruption risk,” he said.

The workshop organised by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) and the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) in partnership with GMA brought together maritime experts from six African countries to deliberate on new trends in best practices in vessel clearance at seaports.

Mr Antwi said “to be blunt, the industry is opaque in its operations thus particularly exposed to corruption risk. You have citizen A acquiring a vessel, registering it in country B, employing crew from countries C, D & E, transporting cargoes belonging to persons in country F and delivering in country G.

“When these vessels and cargoes arrive at ports, clearing and operational processes involve numerous stakeholders across several jurisdictions, resulting in multiple interactions with government officials.”

He explained that social extortion by officials, even of small amounts, was powerful because small delays have very high costs.

“Corruption in the maritime sector not only generates additional operational costs for the maritime industry thereby endangering the safety and well-being of the crew, but also is a barrier to trade and development,” he added.