Government, acting through the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has signed a service contract with LCB Worldwide – a crisis management and prevention firm – to disinfect all imports at the country’s entry points, effective January 2018.
Tunnel-like scanners will be installed at the ports, where trucks carting imported cargo will have to drive through for organic chemicals to be sprayed on the goods so as to eliminate any hazardous or infectious disease before the goods get onto the market or to the consignee.
The exercise is in line with laid-down bio-security measures of the International Health Regulations (IHR), and comes at a time when the country needs to be proactive in dealing with the issue of public health.
The International Health Regulations recommend routine and emergency measures at designated points of entry, and these include decontamination procedures at international container terminals, ports, airports and ground crossings.
Ghana, in 2007 – alongside other member-states of the World Health Organisation (WHO) – enforced the IHR, and in 2012 incorporated them into its national laws by virtue of the Public Sector Act (Act 851).
As per the contract, LCB Worldwide will deploy about eight disinfection delivery tunnels in the ports of Tema and Takoradi, and various other entry points in the country.
The company indicated that it has already put in place all the facilities it will need to carry out its functions.
Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare – at a stakeholder meeting to discuss implementation of the programme, emphasised that the decontamination exercise augurs well for the country ‘s socio-economic development.
He said: “The move is to ensure early recognition of emerging pest and disease threats, allow integrated responses to threats, rationalisation of controls and improved emergency preparedness and response.”
According to him, the country must not be left behind in an era when the world is enhancing measures and adopting preventive mechanisms to crisis.
According to the United Nations Development Group, West Africa alone may have lost as much as 3.6 billion dollars per year between 2014 and 2017 – due to a decrease in trade, closing of borders, flight cancellations; and reduced foreign direct investment and tourism activity fuelled by stigma.
LCB Worldwide will be working in accordance with recommendations of the World Health Organisation and under direct supervision of the Ghana Health Service.
The company will carry out the disinfection exercise at ports and points of entry without any additional delays at the designated places.
The project will offer gains to all stakeholders and serve as a marketing tool and strategy for importers and exporters, who can now assure clients of safe and secure handling of their goods coming into the country.
“Ghana’s ports will be positioned as the preferred destination for trade, due to the fact that the disinfection will provide extra security and the country will stand out as first in the West African sub region to implement the IHR,” Dr. Asare noted.
Major stakeholders including the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, the Ghana Union of Traders Association-GUTA, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, the Association of Customs House Agents Ghana-ACHAG, the Food and Drugs Authority, and the Customs Brokers Association of Ghana CUBAG among others were present at the stakeholder session.