Blue economy needs to be protected by the judiciary – CJ

Blue economy needs to be protected by the judiciary - CJ
Chief Justice (CJ), Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah speaking at the event

The Chief Justice (CJ), Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, has said that the nation’s commercial maritime activities are critical to economic growth, and therefore it is imperative for the judiciary to be equipped well enough to deal with maritime matters which come before it.

According to him, it is imperative for Justices of the Superior Courts to be abreast of maritime laws in order to effectively handle cases relating to shipping, piracy and allied matters.

Speaking at the opening of the 13th Maritime Law Seminar for Superior Court Justices, the CJ said with pirate attacks being recorded in Ghana’s territorial waters in the Gulf of Guinea, issues of arresting ships, judicial sale and distribution of proceeds will arise in adjudication.

“Therefore, my lords and lady justices will have to be well-equipped to deal with them in a manner that stimulates economic growth,” he said.

Maritime activities have been on the ascendency for decades, and the country has benefitted enormously. It is common knowledge that in the last couple of years Ghana’s international maritime trade has witnessed tremendous growth in the volumes of cargo passing through our ports. From an import and export throughput of about 15 million tonnes in 2014, the total throughput for the ports of Tema and Takoradi increased to about 20 million tonnes in 2019.

The Seminar

About 50 Justices attended the two-day event, organised by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) and Judicial Training Institute (JTI) to build their capacity on contemporary happenings in the industry.

They were taken through topics including Piracy and Terrorism by Osei Bonsu Dickson, Director Legal-Ministry of National Security; Bills of Lading and other Documents in use in International Trade by Alexander Buabeng, Consultant for Maritime Legislation; and Arrest of Ships, Judicial Sale and Distribution of Proceeds by Dr. Kofi Mbiah, who is also a Consultant for Maritime Legislation.

Piracy Attacks

Justice Yeboah, expressing worry about piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, said Ghana has since last year recorded nine cases in its territorial waters – of which six incidents took place last year.

He said three occurrences took place between January and June this year, and the attacks were mainly on ships transporting bulk petroleum and its products, as well as those carrying exotic goods.

He acknowledged the recent call by President Nana Akufo-Addo for concerted efforts between West African leaders to deal with the growing threats, as they can affect maritime trade.

Justice Yeboah said the shipping industry requires all the attention it can get, because it is the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation and trade.

He therefore commended stakeholders in the industry for ensuring that more than 80 percent of global trade is kept resolute despite disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ghana Shippers’ Authority

The GSA Chief Executive Officer, Benonita Bismarck, said the contribution of maritime trade to the country’s economic development is critical; and with advancements in the sector to enhance ease of doing business, deliberate efforts are being made to ensure players in the sector have clarity on legal procedures – both locally and globally.

While highlighting the success chalked up by introducing the Integrated Customs Management System and Paperless Port Clearance System, she said the Uncleared Cargo List and administration and management are challenges to the shipping sector.

She said through advocacy of the GSA, a committee has been set up by the Transport Ministry to resolve the issues – including the uncleared consignments of state institutions which have been at the ports for about three years.

Ms. Bismarck said the Authority is also working with other stakeholders to streamline charges at the ports and reduce the cost of shipping.

Judicial Training Institute

The JTI Acting Director, Justice Dennis Adjei, commended GSA for supporting the training of Justices and appealed for the GSA to support some Justices to pursue further courses in maritime law.





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