The Daily Graphic newspaper reports that there is the possibility of more oil spills on Ghana’s coastlines. The newspaper attributes the possibility to the absence of an offshore vessel monitoring system and appropriate laws to sanction offenders.
The publication citing an unnamed source at the Ghana Maritime Academy (GMA) said the absence of the equipment; Vessel Traffic Moitoring Information System (VTMIS) which could record second by second activities of vessels calling at the country’s ports or passing through the country’s territorial waters, would continue to make the practice attractive to vessels which found dumping cheaper, if not caught than legal disposal.
The source told the Daily Graphic that with the rise in vessel traffic in the country’s ports and the supply services to suppport offshore and oil and gas operations, the VTMIS was crucial and should be procured to save the country’s coastlines.
The source according to the publication cited a vessel, Spirit River which dumped toxic waste at Essipon in the Western Region early this year and was fined a mere $258,000 in penalties.
The source also told the newspaper that there have been several other spills which formed star-balls that polluted the beaches of Jomoro and Ellembelle in the Nzema area.
The source indicated that, it is only the VTMIS that could have given information on the specific vessel that caused the pollution. “Without the VTMIS, it would be difficult to get the particular vessel,” the source said.
Since Ghana announced discovery of oil in commercial quantities in 2007 and started commercial production in December 2010, various individuals and civil society groups have raised concern about the country’s readiness to deal with the challenges that come with being an oil producing country, often citing Nigeria’s Niger Delta as an example to take a cue from and learn to avoid the downsides of oil and gas production which include environmental pollution and threat to local communities’ sources of livelihood.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi