Seafarers contributes 80% of global trade and services – Ghana Maritime Authority
Report by: Ben LARYEA
The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has stated that close to two million seafarers globally work assiduously in delivering 80 percent of global trade and services for the world’s population of 7.8 billion people.
According to the Authority, about 98,140 commercial vessels of 10 gross tons and above, equivalent to a capacity of 2.06 billion dead weight tonnage (dwt) move close to 12 billion tonnes of trade around the world.
“The absence of seafarers in the discharge of duties, the trading activities of goods and services as well as global commerce would grind to a complete halt,” the GMA have emphasized.
This came to light on the occasion of the 2021 World Maritime Day celebration organised by the Ghana Maritime Authority in collaboration with Ghana Shippers Authority in Accra.
The celebration was under the theme, “Seafarers at the Core of Shipping’s future” which is geared towards bringing to the fore the invaluable services and contribution of seafarers within the global maritime supply chain.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Transport, Mr. Kwaku Ofiri Asiamah in a speech read on his behalf, by his deputy Mr. Frederick Obeng Adom said the occasion will provide an opportunity for industry players in the maritime space to discuss and deliberate on issues, in relations to economic growth, jobs creation, seafarers’ livelihoods and the preservation of marine and coastal ecosystems.
He said the shipping industry remains the backbone of the global supply chain hence there is the need to leverage the opportunity for shipping to work towards economic growth, job creation, commerce, trade facilitation among others.
Therefore called for a robust maritime policies and strategies among stakeholders in the maritime sector to achieve its full potentials.
Turning the spotlight on seafarers in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, he said they are part of the maritime workforce therefore government have put in place swift measures for them to have easy access to the vaccination exercise, adding that 5,000 Ghanaian seafarers are qualified to get vaccinated.
He explained that the deadly Covid-19 pandemic have adversely impacted on global supply chains with the shipping industry badly affected resulting in slowdown of activities and operations of seafarers.
On challenges that seafarers encounter in their respective jurisdictions, he said 200,000 seafarers in April, 2021 got stranded on board vessels and another 400,000 were unable to go on ships, resulting in economic hardships due to the Covid-19.
He said seafarers must not be discriminated on the grounds of nationality, race, colour, sex, religion among others in the hands of their employers and must be given the needed medical care and access to phones as well as the internet facilities to contact families.
In the areas of piracy and armed robbery on ships and other illicit activities, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, he said government is liaising with the Maritime law enforcement agencies to combat the menace and halt the scourge.
The Director General of GMA, Mr. Thomas Alonsi urged Ghanaian ship owners and Agents to pay social security contributions and pension funds of seafarers to ensure a dignified retirement after years of service at sea.
The Authority he said is initiating steps to amend Section 481 of Act 645 to enable the maritime law protect seafarers from abuse and exploitation and however commended them for their immense contribution to the maritime industry.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority Mrs Benonita Bismark urged government to roll out training programmes to build capacity of seafarers to enable them be abreast with the dynamics and the emerging trends in the maritime space.
In another development, the GMA used the occasion to launch its maiden edition of its newsletter dubbed “Ghana Maritime Bulleting amidst fireworks to the admiration of participants as well as free distribution of the copies.