The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) says it is optimistic that this session of Parliament will pass the pollution bill into law to ensure that deliberate spillage of oil and toxic chemicals in general in the country’s Waters would become unattractive and expensive to vessels and other mariners.
It said the government had also made a commitment in procurement of the badly needed monitoring equipment, Vessel Traffic Monitoring Information System (VTMIS) to enhance its operations at the cost of 17 million euros from Finland.
This followed the warning that the absence of the law and the VTMIS monitoring equipment there could cause more spillages along the country’s coasts from Denu-Keta to Half Assini.
This was after the coast of Ahanta West District of the Western Region was polluted with oily waste discharged into the sea by an unknown vessel or platform last Thursday.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, after the paper’s disclosure that the law and the equipment needed to monitor the country’s territorial waters were not in place, the Director General, Mr Peter Azuma, said plans were far advanced and government had signed the contract to that effect.
He said the GMA had the cabinet’s approval for the pollution bill and it was forwarded to Parliament for passage into law. He expressed the hope that in considering the urgency of that law, the House would consider it this session.
On the VTMIS, Mr Azuma said the more a lot of work was done in the area of identifying the sites, the more mobilised it would be in Finland for installation in Ghana.
The VTMIS, he said, would enable the GMA to monitor the country’s coastlines from Denu-Keta to Half-Assini in the Jomoro District of the Western Region.
He said aside the VTMIS; there was also the need for a monitoring boat for the GMA which formed the local component. The Ministry of Finance had also made a commitment to that effect.
The director general said the VTMIS would cost 11 million euros. The commitment of the local component, which was the boat and other preparation, would be done before the arrival of the VTMIS system in 2012.
He said the equipment would be installed in Tema and its headquarters with various cell sites along the coasts to ensure total coverage of the country’s coast.
Mr Azuma said GMA would be working with other stakeholders such as Ghana Navy, Customs, the national security and other state agencies to make the unapproved activities offshore unattractive to mariners.
He used the opportunity to urge the communities along the country’s coast to report any unusual features on the coast to the authorities.
Experts told the Daily Graphic that the VTMIS system was used for the various telematics and information systems developed to enhance the safety and effectiveness of the maritime traffic.
Therefore with the discovery of oil in the country’s territorial waters, leading to the increase in vessel traffic in the country and amid the reported cases of pirate activities within the coasts of West Africa, the country could no longer afford to go to sleep without monitoring the system.