Govt investing to tackle piracy — Ghana Maritime Authority
The government is investing in the maritime sector to tackle the increasing spate of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, the Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Mr Thomas Kofi Alonsi, has said.
The authority, he said, had embarked on some interventions, including the introduction of new legislations, to deal with the menace.
The Gulf of Guinea continues to be a global epicentre for piracy, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest global piracy report.
The first quarter of 2021, according to the IMB Piracy Reporting Center (PRC), witnessed 38 piracy incidents reported on 33 vessels as well as the kidnapping of 40 crew members within the stated period.
At a Meet the Press event in Accra yesterday, Mr Alonsi said apart from the authority's own activities, there was an ongoing inter-regional effort by all West African coastal states through the ECOWAS Maritime Security Architecture to minimise the incidents within the Gulf of Guinea.
“The authority, together with other coastal states, has to find ways and means of curtailing the incidence of piracy within our territorial waters,” the GMA Director-General said.
The GMA, he said, had also held consultative meetings with the Naval Command on joint patrols in Ghana’s territorial waters, and had consequently acquired five new patrol boats for purposes of surveillance activities.
The boats, he said, had been deployed in the ports of Tema and Takoradi to monitor pirate activities and to prevent smuggling of small arms and illicit drugs.
Similarly, he said the authority was considering recommendations by the Attorney-General to introduce a comprehensive Maritime Offences Act to address issues of insecurity in the sector because the provisions in Sections 193 and 194 of the Criminal Offences Act had become outdated and were no longer in tandem with the provisions in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The UNCLOS is an international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities.
“The authority is unable to prosecute piracy and other maritime related offences since the existing regulations are not fit for purpose, and at a point where some pirates were arrested here in Ghana, we had to repatriate them to Nigeria for trial since they have stringent regulation in prosecuting such cases,” Mr Alonsi said.
Already, the GMA Director-General said, some engagements had been held with relevant stakeholders, including the Attorney-General’s Department, which was putting together a draft bill for further engagements.
“A new law will have to incorporate all international conventions on maritime security such as the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA Act), the UNCLOS, the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS), among other relevant treaties, and we are still deliberating whether to go ahead with the new law or review the existing one,” Mr Alonsi said.