Ghana has found oil and is producing in commercial quantities, but has a weak system, in terms of capacity to clean-up when there is a major spillage, Mrs Azara Al-Hassan Prempeh, Deputy Director –Legal Bureau of the Ghana Maritime Authority has observed.
“As we speak, there is a shortfall in capacity when it comes to major incident,” she noted. Mrs Azara Al-Hassan Prempeh made this observation at a day’s seminar on the country’s Marine Pollution Bill, which is currently at the committee level of the country’s Parliament for consideration.
In attendance were members of Parliament, representatives of some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), Civil Society Organisations, Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) as well as the Research Department of Parliament .
The participants were taken through two paper presentations; ‘Ghana’s Marine Pollution Bill ,liabilities, Compensation, Enforcements and challenges ‘ by Mrs Azara Prempeh and ‘Ghana’s oil find and its potential Impacts on the Marine Environment’, by Mr. A.K. Armah from the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon.
The event was organized by the Research Department of Parliament in collaboration with STAR Ghana under the theme-“Pollution Menace in the Oil industry-The Urgency of the Ghana’s Marine Pollution Bill.”
The event, according to its organizers, was born out of the thinking that inadequate and lack of information on the Marine Pollution Bill will have a negative on members of Parliament during deliberations, when the bill is introduced on the floor of the House.
Additionally , it was meant to create a platform for information and knowledge sharing between MP’s academia and other stakeholders in the oil and gas industry.
The Maritime Pollution Bill seeks to provide the regulatory frame work for the prevention of pollution by oil, noxious liquid substances in bulk, harmful substances carried by sea in packaged from, sewage, garbage and air pollution from ships.
It also gives contracting parties the mandate to inspect ships including tankers and other supply vessels to ensure that their operation are safe and will not pollute the marine environment.
The Bill also incorporates the provision of other conventions including the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea , 1982(UNCLOS Part XII) dealing with the protection and preservation of the marine environment; 19996 protocol to the convention on the prevention of the marine pollution by dumping waste and other matter, International convention on the establishment of an international fund for compensation for oil pollution damage , 1992 and International convention on oil pollution preparedness, response and co-operation 1990.
Commenting further, Mrs Al-Hassan Prempeh noted that though there was shortfall in capacity to clean up in case of major oil spillage , all was not lost since the country has some agreements with external third party agents specialized in marine pollution and other incidents to come to the aid of the local firm billed to do the job.
According to her, the country was currently conducting an exercise in all its various institutions, i.e. the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and other bodies to determine the kind of equipment that was available for a major clean-up in times of disaster.
Per the dictates of the bill and other regulations in the maritime industry, the polluter is responsible for the clean-up.