SOS! SOS! SOS! To Mills

Though the government is watching the Takoradi Port with an eagle eye due to the new role the Port is expected to play in future, as transit point for the oil industry, the Port might eventually fail to play the role expected of it due to the grave challenges confronting it. This is because the Port is currently handicapped by the shallow waters which need deeper dredging to allow larger vessels to berth. This had been an issue that confronted the NPP Government, which tackled it with the assistance of the then Minister of Fisheries, Mrs. Gladys Asmah, who led a team of Government officials to promise the dredging of the waters but cash constraints forced an abandonment of the project. This difficulty has now become an albatross around the neck of the Mills administration. Secondly, the Port is also saddled with a challenge to create new berthing places and Oil Service terminals Due to this challenge, the authorities at Takoradi Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) have been referring most of the Oil Service Vessels to berth at the Naval base Command, though under normal circumstances this should not be the case. Currently, the Ports authorities have put in place what it terms as an ‘Immediate Master Plan’ to reclaim a portion of the sea to serve as a new berthing place to contain the Oil Service Vessels that have had to berth at the Naval Base. Among the actions contained in the master plan, is the creation of Oil Service terminal and bulk cargo terminals, which is estimated to cost a total of 650 million US dollars. What this means is that the Ports authorities would need these amount to meet the challenges enumerated above, in order to meet the demands of the Oil Business which would take off next year. The Marketing Manager of the Takoradi Port, Mr. George Ohene Bredu, who made the astonishing disclosure when the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Mike Hammah visited the Port last Friday, urged the Minister to buy into their master plan. This is because, the Ports authourity saw the $650million dollar investment proposed for the listed projects as viable and would be recouped in the near future, as a result of the emerging oil industry which would provide capital for the Port. The Marketing Manager further went on to identify other challenges confronting the Port as inadequate warehouse, inadequate transit sheds and lack of space for trucks, among other challenges. The Acting Director General of GPHA, Mr. Nesta Galley stressed on the need for the 650 million dollar project to be given urgent attention by government. This is because, that was the only way the Ports could meet the demands of the emerging oil industry squarely. Responding, the Minister of Transport, Mr. Mike Hammah noted that the desire by government to make the Takoradi Port the gateway to West Africa could not just be given lip-service. As a result government was putting in pragmatic measures to make the dream of the Port becoming the gateway in West Africa a reality. According to the Minister, since 90% of the international trade was sea borne and the Ports plays an important role to that effect, Government had no option than to make the Ports effective in their operation. Government’s attention, according to the Minister was on the Ports and Harbours due to the discovery of oil in our country to serve as a central point in raking in maximum benefit due the country. For this reason, it served as a challenge to government to improve the Ports and Harbours. To the Minister, government will urgently meet the challenges, otherwise the country might lose its core business in ports and harbours to other neighboring Ports.