Government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee to meet the deadline for the implementation of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2020 Sulphur Cap regulations, Mrs Mabel Sagoe, the Chief Director of Ministry of Transport has said.
The committee comprised of representatives from the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), the Ghana Shippers' Authority (GSA), the National Petroleum Commission, the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority, among others to ensure that adequate plans were put in place to meet the deadline.
The global IMO Sulphur Cap 2020 regulations specify that every vessel must adhere to strict Sulphur emission limits with effect from January 1, 2020 by lowering the Sulphur content from 3.5 per cent to 0.5 per cent or face consequences including fines and delays to shipping schedules.
The regulations is aimed at addressing the major environmental challenges like the air pollution from maritime transportation.
Mrs Sagoe announced this on Thursday at a sensitisation seminar for shippers and shipping service providers on the impact of IMO 2020 Sulphur Cap Regulations on shipping cost in Accra, jointly organised by the GSA and the GMA.
She said the global system of shipping industry required that, Ghana aligned itself to the implementation of shipping regulations and standards because the country was a member of the IMO and a signatory to the Marpol convention.
The main elements of pollution are nitrogen oxide and Sulphur oxide, which are mainly due to the presence and burning of Sulphur compounds in the fuel and causes respiratory symptoms and lung disease.
Mrs Sagoe stated that limiting Sulphur oxide emissions from ships would improve air quality and protect the environment, adding that the country needed to prepare adequately to create the needed awareness and adopt policy strategy to adhere to the regulations.
"As a Ministry, we recognised the need to ensure optimum port cost as a prerequisite for greater competitiveness of Ghanaian shippers, calling on stakeholders in the sector to support government efforts to ensure successful implementation of trade facilitation measures at our ports".
She said government was committed to ensuring that the country's international trade remained competitive, paving way for the vision of the regional trade hub, stressing that the start of the new Meridian Port Services terminal three and the ongoing port expansion projects at the Takoradi port were all expected to boost trade.
According to her, the ongoing reforms including the paperless cargo clearance system were being evaluated to ensure greater efficiency with the aim of seeing an overall improvement in the cost of doing business in the ports.
Ms Benonita Bismarck, the Chief Executive Officer, GSA said the African Maritime Transport Charter 2020 of which Ghana had subscribed to, sheds light on the remits of maritime administrations relating to safety, security and pollution of the maritime environment, while the shippers organisations dealt with freight rates, port charges, among others.
She stated that the GMA would focus on providing guidelines for the compliance and monitoring of the IMO 2020 Sulphur Cap regulations while the GSA focused on the impact of compliance by shipping lines on their charges.
She said Sulphur in gasoline impaired the effectiveness of emission control systems and contributed to air pollution, adding that reducing its content enabled advanced emission controls and reduced the pollutions.
Mr Daniel Appianin, the Deputy Director General in charge of Operations and Technical, GMA, said statistics revealed that there were more than 100,000 transport ships at sea transporting every kind of cargo.
However, in 2016, it was reported that ships carried more than 10 billion tons of trade for the first time globally.
The GMA superintends over the Maritime Pollution Act (ACT 932), which provides for the prevention, regulation and control of maritime pollution within the territorial waters of the country and other maritime zones.
He called on ship owners and ship operators to be united in their determination to ensure that international shipping remained the most the most environmentally sound mode of transport.
The participants called for intensive sensitisation forum across the country and ensure that any increases in shipping cost as a result of compliance to the regulations was addressed amicably without any infractions.