President Nana Addo Darkwa Akufo-Addo, has announced his government’s commitment to protect the country’s territorial waters from pirates and other illegal sea activities.
“I pledge my unwavering commitment to protecting the territorial integrity of the country. Criminals and pirates cannot be allowed to create unsafe situations in our waters”.The President said the state would therefore commit resources to ensure protective water territories, “We need the full force of state security in curbing this emerging phenomenon”.
Nana Akufo-Addo said this at the commissioning of the refurbished and expanded Sekondi Fishing Harbour valued at $20million. The expansion was necessitated by the recent congestion that had characterized the use of the fishing harbour, with the ice making capacity also overstretched due to increased landing volumes.
The President therefore expressed gratitude to the Japanese Government for responding to the government's call for support.Nana Akufo-Addo said between 2010 and 2013 the government requested for grant aid to cater for the enhancement of functions, resource management, congestion mitigation measures and rehabilitation of related facilities.
The expansion works carried out by Messers TOA and ECOH Corporations have improved the capacity from 50 to 126 in shore vessels intake at the port. The facilities now have a 30tonne ice making facility as against the previous 15 tonnes to cater for the substantial rise of fish inflows.
The President said with fishing contributing four percent to the country’s GDP, it was essential that its activities were properly regulated and supervised to create the needed jobs and improve upon the livelihood of communities engaged in that sector… “This is why we have a full ministry to oversee the activities of the sector”.
Nana Akufo-Addo paid glowing tribute to the former administration for initiating the expansion and rehabilitation works, adding, “I will not abandon any project started by my predecessors”. The government, he said, had taken lots of steps to grow and expand the fishing industry and that included the construction of the James Town Fishing Habour through a Chinese facility of 15 million dollars, three landing sites at Winneaba, Mumford and Axim.
The rehabilitation of fishing laboratories, refurbishment of the Tema Boatyard and other such interventions to improve the lots of the players in the industry.The President encouraged individuals in the sector to do the right thing by avoiding illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities which could destroy the ocean, “Lets protect the ocean for future generations".
Mr Hirofumi Hoshi, Chief Representative, JICA Ghana Office, said infrastructure development had been position as one core concentration for JICA’s cooperation to Ghana to contribute to the economic and social development of the country.
The JICA implementation of the rehabilitation and expansion of Tema Fishing Harbour and the Sekondi Fishing Harbour was originally developed through a Japanese grant in 1998. He said JICA’s support was to ultimately see Ghana become the transportation hub in the West Africa Region…in line with the vision, the fisheries promotion project in Sekondi was implemented to strengthen the capacity and functions of the Harbour.
Mr Hoshi said through the improvement and expansion of the harbour facilities, it would contribute to efficient coastal fishery operations and growth of the fishery industry. Mr Paul Ansah Asare, the Director General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, said the fishing harbour was to originally provide improved services to fisher folks of Shama, Sekondi-Takoradi and adjoining fishing communities with a capacity of only 50 inshore vessels.
The new facilities include a new administration block, renovated old administration block, a layby wharf, a new ice making plant, access drive way, parking lot, pavement works, in port road and improved drainage among others.
He said the expanded harbour gave more space and the needed facilities to receive many vessels and would go a long way to improve fishing activities and offer a new impetus for making life more meaningful in the Region.