The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has reiterated its full commitment to improving the welfare of local seafarers in the country by recognising their unique contributions to the sector and the role they play.
Director General of the Authority, Thomas Alonsi, said seafarers are valuable assets to the authority and therefore must benefit from Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction.
Joining the rest of the world to celebrating about 1.7 million seafarers during this year’s International Day of the Seafarer in Tema under the theme: ‘A Fair Future for Seafarers’, Mr. Alonsi outlined some initiatives undertaken by the authority to promote the wellbeing of local seafarers.
He said the authority this year embarked on an exercise to understand concerns of the seafarer, provided a Point-Of-Sale Terminal at the Tema office to make transactions easier and less cumbersome.
By the end of 2021, the Takoradi office of GMA, would commence the acceptance of applications and capturing of bio-data leading to the issuance of certificates of competency, proficiency, and other vital seafarers documents. This, according to Mr. Alonsi, will curtail the movement of seafarers all the way to Tema to access these services.
He further indicated they are in the process of introducing an online application process which should include appointment scheduling to reduce time and energy spent in seafarers’ registration and certificate issuance processes.
“Some of the suggestions you have made in furtherance of the request to create a Fair Future for Seafarers are being implemented to lessen your burden and to ensure fair future for you. I promise you, change has come”. Mr. Alonsi disclosed.
President of the Seafarers Centre Ghana, Eden Loh Mensah commended the GMA on progress made so far with the opening of the Ghana shipping registry and making it more economical viable for both the nation and the seafarer community at large.
Executive Director of Centre of International Maritime Affairs Ghana (CIMAG), and a maritime policy expert, Albert Fiatui, called on governments across the world to develop policies that lead to fair treatment of seafarers. He said, governments must do everything possible, considering the key role seafarers play in global trade, to ensure that seafarers are comfortable.
He said throughout the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers have faced difficult working conditions such as uncertainties about port access, re-supply, crew changeovers, and repatriation.
The occasion was well attended by key stakeholders in the maritime industry which include the Ghana Shippers Authority, Regional Maritime University, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, various unions of seafarers, Importers and Exporters Association, and Women in Maritime Africa (WIMA).