Mr Thomas Kofi Alonsi, Director General, Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has warned staff of the Authority that they risk losing their jobs if they continue to treat seafarers with disrespect in their line of duty.
“To you staff, we will not hesitate to sanction you in the interest of GMA; we will not waver to discipline any staff who misconducts himself or herself in the discharge of their duty, because seafarers are key to our survival” he stated.
He, therefore, warned that, “If the people who give us money for the sustenance of the Authority are the same people you drive away from the Authority, then I will drive you away before they desert us.”
The GMA Director General gave the warning during this year’s commemoration of the Day of the Seafarer at Tema, on the Theme: “Fair Future for Seafarers”.
Mr Alonsi said, through the research, concerns were raised about the frustrations some seafarers went through in transacting business with the Ghana Maritime Authority on daily basis.
He explained that, in their daily human interactions, there was the tendency of misunderstanding erupting, and said, that shouldn’t be a norm which should necessitate the disrespect of the persons who ensured that the authority thrived.
“I promise you that change is coming; In fact, change has come because some of the suggestions you made are being implemented to lessen you burden and to ensure a fair future for you” he assured.
He emphasized that the role of seafarers in maritime transportation could not be underemphasized, because their roles were crucial not only for safe operation of ships, but also for smooth delivery of cargo.
He said the significant contribution of seafarers to the world’s economy coupled with the risks and personal cost they bear while on their jobs, was key to the viability and development of the industry.
Therefore, he said, “any staff of the Authority should consider themselves privileged to be serving in various capacities,” and called on seafarers and other stakeholders who encountered such instances of misconduct to report to the authority for such cases to be investigated and the offenders dealt with.
Mr Alonsi said, in its quest to create a fair future for seafarers, the Authority this year embarked on an exercise to “understand the concerns of our compatriots in the seafaring business”.
He said, they had provided a Point-of-sale Terminal at the Tema Office of the Authority to make transactions easier and less cumbersome.
The Director General added that, before the end of 2021, its Takoradi Branch would commence the acceptance of applications and the capturing of bio-data, leading to the issuance of certificates of competency, proficiency and other vital seafarer documents; to curtail the movement of seafarers all the way to Tema to access those services.
He commended the staff of the authority, majority of whom were cited in the research, for satisfactorily conducting themselves and exhibiting professional conduct in the performance of their duties.
The day of the seafarer afforded the GMA the opportunity to recognize the invaluable contribution of seafarers who keep the wheels of the worldwide commerce and economic system running.
The event was also used to call on governments globally to recognize seafarers as essential workers and ease the travel restrictions on them despite the COVID-19 pandemic