Government’s plan to eliminate any hazardous or infectious diseases at the country’s ports through import decontamination is on track, Sen Korhan Muharrem, Chief Engineer at LCB Worldwide-the contracting firm to undertake the exercise, has indicated.
He said the company has started constructing scanner-like tunnels at the various gates of Tema Port, and if things go according to plan all imported consignments will be sanitised at the country’s ports before getting to the consignee or onto the Ghanaian market, effective mid-February.
Trucks carrying imported goods will drive through the tunnel and be sprayed with organic chemicals spontaneously before exiting through any of the ports’ gates.
“We have started with the civil engineering works; which includes the construction of steels as well as other electrical and mechanical works; after this, we will start erecting the gates that will be fitted with high-tech equipment to carry out the exercise,” he said.
“The eight tunnels for the Tema Port should be ready and operational by mid-February, including the test runs, although it will be done gate by gate,” Mr. Muharrem said after a visit to the project site.
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.
According to port authorities, the exercise will be extended to the Takoradi Port and offers gains to all stakeholders – serving 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.
LCB Worldwide will be working in accordance with recommendations of the World Health Organisation and under direct supervision of the Ghana Health Service.
It is expected to carry out the disinfection exercise at ports and points of entry without any additional delays at the designated places.
According to Mr. Muharrem, spraying activities at the various tunnels will be fully automated to allow for free flow of import carting trucks, and to avoid blockades at the ports’ gates.
The decontamination of imports 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.
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).
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; as well as reduced foreign direct investment and tourism activity fuelled by stigma.
Mr. Muharrem expressed satisfaction at the pace of work and was optimistic that the project will be completed within schedule.
“As a company, we have a policy of engaging local expertise to undertake the project, and we have done same for this exercise. We are very happy with the workers for their output, and we believe they are up to the task,” he said.