Mr Thomas Kofi Alonsi, the Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), says the Authority has made tremendous strides in maritime security despite continuous piracy threats from lack of control over the Gulf of Guinea.
He said the challenges with the fight against piracy were enormous because the Gulf of Guinea cut across several coastal states, emphasising that a coastal state like Ghana, could not fight the phenomenon by its sole efforts.
Mr Alonsi said it called for concerted and collaborative efforts to nip it in the bud or reduce it to the barest minimum and that mechanisms had been put in place to ensure safety and security within Ghana’s maritime domain.
The Director-General, who took his turn to address the media at the Ministry of Information said: “We recognise that it is a challenge to shipping and inimical to business interest…”
He noted that as part of its mandate to ensure maritime security within Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction, the Authority had taken some steps to complement existing measures instituted to address illicit maritime activities and maintain maritime security.
In that regard, Mr Alonsi said, the Authority had procured a Mercy-Class Patrol Mother Ship and a daughter craft to improve surveillance and patrol activities within Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction particularly within the Economic Exclusive Zone.
He said the rate of crimes on the country’s territorial waters also necessitated the acquisition of a surveillance system – Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMS) – for electronic surveillance and monitoring of Ghana’s coastline.
It is an enhanced surveillance system with the capacity of monitoring the entire coast of Ghana, including the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Volta Lake using its integrated electronic functionalities.
The VTMS, the Director-General explained, ensured the protection of the country’s maritime resources as well as offshore installations, oil terminals, gas pipelines, and prevention of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, piracy and prevention of ship source pollution.
Further to the provision of safety and security of ships in the country’s maritime domain, Mr Alonsi noted that Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction was under continuous surveillance particularly the West African Gas Pipeline, Aboadze pipeline, Ghana Gas pipeline, Jubilee Oil Fields, Tein Oil Fields, Sankofa Oil Fields and Fishing Prohibited Zones.
He said from the records of the GMA, when the Surveillance System was established and became fully functional, piracy and armed robbery in the country’s maritime domain had drastically reduced.
He added that the movement of vehicles within control areas and the control of fishing within prohibited areas were being effectively monitored to ensure sanity on the country’s waters.
Mr Alonsi said a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) was effectively being implemented by a reception and that distress calls were relayed from vessels within its coverage area, with ship owners and ship operators developing confidence in operating within the country’s waters.
Captain Emmanuel Kofi Ankamah, Deputy Director in charge of Ship Inspection and Maritime Security, GMA, said piracy and maritime insecurity generally required some level of multinational collaboration, most of which were spearheaded by the GMA.
He said the Yaoude Code of Conduct, an architecture for the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activities in West and Central Africa – was one of such collaborative efforts to check some of the insecurities.
The Deputy Director of Maritime security disclosed that in 2019, some 127 cases of insecurity across the Gulf of Guinea were recorded, while 139 cases were recorded in 2020 and 74 cases recorded by the end of 2021.