The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) is putting in stringent security measures to close all avenues used by persons who want to use the country’s sea ports to stowaway to Western countries.
Security operatives at the Tema Port say stowaway is the major challenge faced by the GPHA as ‘one or two’ persons have been caught engaging in it this year.
Mr Stevens Siaka-Anane, Deputy Harbour Master in-charge of operations, disclosed this on Thursday during the Second Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport-Ghana (CILT) Continuous Professional Development Programme at Tema.
The programme was on the theme: “Review of Maritime Security in Ghana Territorial Waters”
Mr Siaka-Anane explained that mostly, such stowaways hid in empty containers from depots, adding that such containers often do not undergo scanning.
He indicated that officials of Abidjan port in Cote d’Ivoire always accused Ghana of allowing people to stowaway as according to them whenever they arrested such persons they turn out to be Ghanaians.
He however noted that the claim was been worked on to ascertain whether they started their stowaway journeys from the Ghana or joined on the sea saying that having the image of a stowaway prone area would not help the country.
The Deputy Harbour Master said measures put in place to curb the practice included proper identification and restriction of persons going onboard of vessels be they stevedores or for any business.
Others are stringent access control, monitoring of stevedoring, gangway manning, waterside patrols, and empty container visits as well as the usage of trained dogs for rummaging and prosecution of persons who attempted to stowaways.
Mr Samuel Etsibah, Vice President of CILT, in a keynote address, said the theme for the programme was timely as Ghana prepared its comprehensive maritime policy framework (National Integrated Maritime Strategy) to ensure development and protection of its marine resources and users of its territorial waters.
Mr Etsibah said even though Ghana’s maritime borders could be described generally as well secured, it required maintenance and improvement as according to him piracy, illegal fishing, human trafficking, narcotics, and international trade, among others was a concern to CILT.
He said his outfit recommended to government to continue boosting security on the country’s territorial waters by investing in state-of-the-art maritime technology and the provision of surveillance equipment for the agencies whose responsibility it was to secure the maritime borders.