West, Central Africa port authorities charged to facilitate economic growth
Mr Michael Luguje, Secretary-General of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA), has charged ports authorities to put the customer or the port user at the centre stage in their proactive plans to develop the ports to facilitate economic growth.
He admitted that meeting the expectations of the port user required colossal investment which in his view was becoming more and more difficult for governments and ports authorities alone to provide.
Mr Luguje made the call at a five-day mid-term meetings of the Technical Committees of PMAWCA in Tema.
It is being attended by members of the Association drawn from the Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone countries.
Mr Luguje said it is for this reason that ports authorities are partnering with the private sector to attract ready financial capital for infrastructural development and requisite technological and human expertise for speedy, safe and efficient delivery of ports services.
“In the West and Central African sub-regions many of our ports have partnered with the big operators in shipping and ports’ terminal management. These partnerships have recorded some positive outcomes, although a lot still remained to be done to accurately quantify the gains and ensure that ports and national economies benefit fully from public/private partnerships.”
He pointed out that while public/private partnerships in ports development and management were being embraced by ports authorities they were duty bound to build adequate human institutional and legislative capacities in order to provide the needed oversight and exercise efficient supervision over the ports assets and the ports community.
The PMAWCA Secretary-General admitted that while governments look forward for a bright future of growth in international trade through their various ports they ought to contend with the burden of investing heavily in ports and hinterland infrastructural development to accommodate the increasing trade flows.
Mr Luguje charged ports on the African continent to ensure maritime security and safety as well as the protection of their marine environment against pollution by ships, ports operations, and coastal zone industrial operations.
Dr Kofi Mbiah, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority in a solidarity message said the congestion problem at our ports and its resultants demurrage and rent charges, the imposition of local shipping charges, pilfering and proliferation surcharges remained the major challenges facing shippers in the sub-region.
Dr Mbiah said while representatives of the interests of shippers continue to make demands for improvement of standard of service rendered by shipping service providers, they were prepared to accept reasonable tariff increases that take cognisance of recent changes and reflect improve service delivery.
Welcoming the delegates, Mr Richard Anamoo, Director General of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority said they would be brainstorming on how to restructure PMAWCA and reorganise its activities to stand the test of time and make it more relevant to the needs of member organisations.
PMAWCA is a sub-regional inter-governmental organisation established during the historic inaugural Assembly of October, 1972 in Freetown, Sierra Leone by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Membership is made up of 22 regular member ports and nine associate members including the landlocked countries and maritime organisations all located along the West Coast of the African continent stretching from Mauritania to Angola covering about 9,400 kilometres on the Atlantic Ocean.
The Association also has observer members located in Europe.
Its prime objectives are to foster cooperation, exchange of expertise, experience and knowledge among its member ports in order to enhance the delivery of effective and efficient ports services in their individual countries and the sub-region as whole.
The Association whose headquarters is located in Lagos, Nigeria is headed by a Secretary-General who is elected by a majority votes for a mandate of four years, renewable only once.
The current Secretary-General, Mr Luguje is a Ghanaian.