Port of Keta feasibility study begins as GPHA seals contract with consultants

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The Ghana Port and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has commissioned an association of consultants led by a M/S Sellhorn ingenieurgesellschaft mbH from Hamburg, Germany. The other consultants are pro Teln Service GmbH, PSP Architekin, ingenieure and a Ghanaian team from Yogarib Engineering Services Limited.

The parties, GPHA and Sellhorning, executed the consulting services contract on Wednesday 9, June, 2020 which marks a major milestone towards the realization of the development of the new port of Keta. The signing ceremony was conducted through Microsoft teams video conference at the headquarters of GPHA between GPHA team in Tema and the consultant’s team in various part of Germany.

At the virtual signing ceremony, the Director General of GPHA, Mr. Michael Luguje in a press release, acknowledged the limitations imposed on all parties in the face of the global pandemic. However, he admonished the team to take all necessary steps to employ their best professional abilities to deliver the terms of the contract since the port of Keta is an important development agenda for the government and people of Ghana.

In support for the Director General’s remarks, the Director of the Port of Keta, Dr. Alexander Yaw Adusei Jnr. thanked the Director General and management of GPHA for the committed investment in the project and success in appointing a consultant through a professionally well-conducted and transparent process which will aid the commencement of the most critical part of the development of port of Keta.

The Director of Port of Keta also expressed the hope that the Volta region will soon have a modern port and maritime logistics hub for Ghana and a strategic cargo route through the Volta Region and the eastern corridor for Ghana’s northern neighbours.

GPHA has also issue the letter of notice to commence to the consultant to begin the services officially on the 23 of June, 2020 in accordance with the conditions of the contract.

The appointed consultant is expected to expedite work to deliver a full feasibility study and master plan, including development and investment strategy for the port of Keta. The first feasibility indicators are expected within seven (7) months.

Globally, port infrastructure development is usually a very involving and time consuming activity which does not just spring up but is accompanied by careful decisions backed by empirical facts and detailed port and public infrastructure planning considerations.

Often, it takes years of several considerations before an ultimate construction of physical structures commence. The James Town Fishing Harbour and the fish landing sites had had their project preparations as far back as 2008. The Takoradi expansion project started in 2011 and physical works effectively commenced in 2014. The procurement of feasibility study lines and master planning of Tema Port Expansion project preparations began earlier than 2012 and yet physical works commenced in December 2016.

Indeed, for an entirely fresh port and port-city infrastructure like what is going to be built at Keta, the commitment and time invested and achieved so far is very impressive with the hope that all other stages or preparatory works will be given such equal devotion to see to the realization of the port of Keta.

The emergence of COVID-19 already delayed the final signing of the feasibility contract, which should have taken place in the first quarter of the year as there have been impediments like travel restrictions. Fortunately, efficient measures have been put in place to address such hurdles going forward.

Brief History

Before the advent of the port of Takoradi and port of Tema, there were sufferance ports sited at Cape Coast, Accra, Keta, Sekondi, and Axim. Ships calling at these ports were anchored offshore and their cargoes transferred utilizing lighters and surf boats. Owing to the dangerous surfing, the sufferance ports were found to be unsuitable and inadequate to cope with the fast expanding trade of the country.

By 1919 it had become clear that the low capacity sailing Ships with low draft could no longer cope with the heavy evacuation of cocoa from the hinterland to the port of Accra, Winneba, Sekondi, and Cape Coast.

This necesitated the decision to build a deep sea harbour capable of accommodating high capacity iron Ships, then emerging from Ship Yards in Europe. Port of Takoradi was therefore  born on April 3, 1928 with the commissioning of port of Tema in 1962.

The interest in the port of Keta was postponed until the early days of 2009 after the Keta Sea Defense project along with the hightened interest in the development of marine facilities for the then-budding oil and gas exploration interest in Ghana.

The idea was also highly sustained in 2011- 2012 due to the commercial  viability of the fish landing site prospect, in Keta. Overtime, various port development interests have approached the GPHA to execute a Keta port project.

The Development of a port facility of this kind is driven by several factors, primarily in response to population growth and related consumption/production profile. Businesses are developed from defined cargo portfolio and then viabilities are established to justify the technical and other related feasibility for the development. Such development may be solely public sector driven or other forms with natonal and international private investment partners.

The project development process could span two decades, even with the consistent duty of care covering the provision of all the structures-physical, operational, administrative, legal etc, to facilitate cargo throughput and related supply chain activities within a normal port cluster.

The realization of Keta port is beginning with a Master Plan and Feasibility Studies’,  consulting services, scheduled to commerce in June 2020. Extensive multi-stakeholder engagement sessions are expected to be conducted during the Feasibility Study period, including market search, investment shows, etc. It is anticipated that in the absence of any major delays attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, the studies will be completed by  February 2021 with investment strategy plan for the ports development.

In between the time, GPHA anticipates parallel discussions with local and international interest groups on development prospects. To all intents and purposes, a Master Plan and Feasibility Study are necessary to guide the total development plan for Ghana’s newest port project.

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