Mrs Sandra Opoku, newly appointed Acting Director of Tema Port, has promised to streamline staff issues, revenue mobilization and security at the Port.
Mrs Opoku in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on International Women’s Day, said the Port had a lot of staff issues including absenteeism, which she would address by teaming up with the new Port Human Resource Manager.
She added that she would work assiduously to increase revenue both for the Port and government as the Tema Port was the biggest revenue maker for the state hence the need to collaborate with other state stakeholders to block all loopholes.
She noted that the new trend was transit good diversion where drivers instead of transporting transit goods to destination countries such as Burkina Faso, diverted the items onto the Ghanaian market without paying associated tariffs.
The Director of Tema Port added that security was another important issue if not tackled well could affect her outfit’s operations as issues of stowaways and other pertinent matters in the media frequently could deter vessels from using the port.
On the issue of high freight charges, she observed that there was the need to disabuse the minds of the general public on attributing those charges to the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authorities as she explained that over 70 per cent of those charges came from stakeholders such as the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.
Touching on the issue of being appointed to the position based on connections, she stated that “if it were to be connections, I wouldn’t have spent 16 years here before reaching this place”.
She noted that when one got positions based on connections without the requisite qualifications, their quality of work would give them out as they would be found wanting on the job.
She wondered why such things were not said when men reached the top, saying, “It is always a man’s thing, but it doesn’t work like that, hard work plus prayers make a way”.
She advised young ladies not to crave for fleeting material things at the expense of learning hard and building a career for themselves as according to her, they would be able to provide those things for themselves when they start working.
Mrs Sandra Opoku is a Presbyterian who attended St Roses Senior High School in Akwatia in the Eastern Region for seven years. She was a protocol officer at Lower Sixth and dining hall prefect.
She studied LLB (Bachelor of Law) at the University of Ghana from 1996 to 1999 after which she went to the Ghana Law School and was called to the Bar in October 2001.
She had her National Service at the Civil Division of the Attorney Generals Department while she was at the same time going to court to do her pupillage for six months.
Right after National Service, she started working at the GPHA as a temporal staff “and I had brought my application at a time when two lawyers had been suspended so I was asked to come and help the head of legal temporarily from 1st August 2002, so I was a temporal staff and made permanent on 1st April 2003”.
Mrs Opoku entered permanent work at the GPHA as a legal officer, then later became principal legal officer, a legal manager in 2008, after which she was made board secretary from 2011 to 2014.
She returned to her legal manager job, and was appointed General Manager, Administration in 2017, a job she described as “one of the hottest seat and a big learning curve for me, ” explaining that GPHA had about 2,500 permanent staff, in addition to contract staff, huge number of casual labour, and unions to deal with.
She became General Manager, Legal on 1st November 2018, following the retirement of Mr Edward Mettle-Nunoo. This was followed by her appointment to the position of acting Director of Tema Port on March 4, 2019 following end of contract for Mr Edward Kofi Osei, her predecessor.
Her appointment made her the first female Director of the Tema Port, an achievement she attributed to hard work and God saying “it’s like you are in a state of unbelief and don’t know how to express yourself, it has been an interesting ride”.
Mrs Opoku had additional training in Maritime Law at the International Maritime Institute at Malta, and Port Operations Administrations, among other courses.
Mrs Opoku met her husband at University of Ghana, Legon. They continued to law school, and married in 2002. They are blessed with three children.
“My children and my family are always paramount in my life so in the morning I make sure that everybody is ready, they know me, if it is going to the market, if it is buying their books, I do all that. I don’t see that changing because I am the Director of Port, because for them you are mummy and it is not about your title”.
She commended her husband for being her support saying, “My husband has been my number one supporter, I always say that about him. We don’t have a marriage where we compete among ourselves. Even when I was going to Malta, it was a difficult decision to make since I had just had my first child. He pushed me to leave my baby with my mother and grab that opportunity, that is something some women don’t have, having your husband to support you. Some men always want to be at the top but for me I have been blessed and I am really grateful to him”.