Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 numbers, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) might be backtracking on its projections for 2021 as the authority has taken a cautiously optimistic posture towards cargo volumes expected for this year.
The GPHA was anticipating a 10 percent increase in volumes achieved in 2020 due to the near normalcy the country was returning to but the surge in COVID-19 numbers in the first month of this year is pushing the authority back to the boardroom to amend its expectations.
In 2020, around 30 million metric tonnes of cargo, which is a 3-million-ton improvement over the 27 million recorded in 2019, was experienced at the ports.
Director-General of the GPHA, Michael Luguje, told the B&FT in an interview that projected cargo traffic for the year 2020 in Ghana’s ports did not significantly depart from previously recorded statistics despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the port and shipping business.
“In 2021 we expected volumes to pick up because we felt COVID-19 affected a lot of business in 2020 so the expectation was that when we enter 2021 and the pandemic is controlled then we are going to get business booming for us to have volumes increasing.
Since we started 2021, we are witnessing a third wave which has pushed us to narrow our projections in terms of volumes but we expect to grow. We are modest in our expectations compared to what we were thinking in December.
I don’t have the immediate figures but generally I think we were expecting, for example, 2021 to give us a minimum of 10 percent on the 2020 volumes. What we are thinking of is that by the close of February we will meet and reassess the situation and see if we have to readjust our budget expectations or not,” Mr. Luguje told the paper.
The nation, since the beginning of the year, is experiencing an unusual rise in infected persons. As at Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 616 new cases of coronavirus had been recorded bringing the total caseload to 62,751. Active cases have now hit 3,813.
Infrastructure expansion continue unabated
He further revealed that, apart from being moderate with their operational expenses, the GPHA is not halting any of its infrastructure expansion projects as they are expected to be ready at a time when the port would be able to properly utilize it for economic growth.
“We are on these expansions not for immediate use but for the future. We are also optimistic that COVID-19 would come under control with the development of vaccines. This means that we need not halt any of our projects as they will come in very handy when things go down. For many of our infrastructure expansions, we have contractors on site and their work is going on earnestly.
The only area we have moderated is the operating expenses in terms of equipment to handle cargo. We are careful about those because in case revenues do not go up for us to meet the targets we might not be able to finance them. We have not stopped entirely, but we are monitoring revenues at the same time,” Mr. Luguje intimated.