In keeping with its mandate of enforcing international maritime conventions in Ghana, the Ghana Maritime Authority(GMA) has met with representatives of port reception facilities (PRFs) to discuss gaps that exist when performing their functions at the ports.
The meeting which took place in Accra also had the participation of key stakeholder institutions who play some role in Ghana’s implementation of the MARPOL 73/78 Convention.
These include the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) among others.
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) was established, to prevent ships from polluting the marine environment.
Signatories to this convention, including Ghana are required to provide adequate port reception facilities to receive ship waste ashore.
At the meeting, discussions centered on illegal practices by some port reception facilities at port and onboard ships, noncompliance issues pertaining to the use of vessels, boats and crafts, and compliance issues regarding the reception and management of ship waste.
Other subjects discussed included the role of national regulatory agencies such as Customs in the promotion or hindrance of efficient port reception activities.
Chief Engineer at the Tema branch of the GMA, Engineer Emmanuel Tukpeyi revealed that the Authority has discovered that some workers of PRFs connive with Shipping agents to extort money from ship captains when they visit vessels for waste collection.
The Director in charge of Technical Services at GMA, Captain Inusah Abdul Nassir, cautioned port reception facilities to engage in only waste collection.
He emphasized that PRFs cannot pose as regulators when they board vessels in-port.
Representatives of the National Petroleum Authority present, also raised concerns over an alleged illegal fuel trade suspected to be linked to activities of some port reception facilities.
On the part of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority who contract these PRF’s at the ports, Daniel Asare, Estate and Environment Manager at the Port of Tema, appealed on the Ghana Revenue Authority to revise its position on charging VAT.
He opined that with the activity of Port Reception facilities not being inherently commercial but an environmental initiative, charging VAT to ships will add up to the cost involved and discourage compliance.
Adding his voice to the subject, Kwaku Ennin, Founder and CEO of Zeal Environmental Technologies, one of the PRFs called for the issue of VAT to be addressed at a higher level involving the Ministers of Finance and Transport in order to arrive at a speedy, long lasting resolution of the issue.