Ghana ports prepare for increased container traffic

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has taken delivery of two tug boats to augment its fleet of machinery to effectively handle anticipated increase in container traffic at the ports.

The tug boats, which are electronically controlled, were procured at the cost of 14.4 million Euros from the Damen Shipbuilding Limited in Romania, thus increasing the authority’s fleet of tug boats to seven.

The delivery of the boats were in line with an ambitious project by the GPHA to retool the Tema and Takoradi ports as the authority sought to break new frontiers in maritime and transport trade.

The boats, which comes with a one year warranty from the manufacturer, have a life span of 25 years but could go beyond the lifespan if they are maintained well.

Tug boats are commonly used in port operations for sea towage of specific objects such as vessels, rigs, barges, objects among others.

The Director of the Tema Port, Jacob Kobla Adorkor, at a ceremony to receive the tug boats, indicated that the port expansion, which would create a 16 metre draft and a 300 metre wider berth, meant that bigger vessels would begin to call at the port in the next three years.

He indicated that with the changing dynamics in maritime transport trade, the quest to ensure efficiency in operations required the needed investment in modern crafts and machinery.

“Bigger vessels would require at least three tug boats to berth them, thus as we aspire to become the biggest port along the West African coast, it is important to invest in tools that would make our work simpler and efficient,” Adorkor said.

He said the authority had also acquired patrol boats, reach stackers, forklifts and terminal roll on, roll over (RoRo) tractors with trailers used to transport cargo containers from vessels to various terminals to augment its operations.

“You cannot develop port infrastructure when your human resource base is weak and lack capacity,” he said, adding: “It was for this the GPHA has as well signed an agreement with the manufacturers of the tug boats to train our marine personnel on the vessel’s operations, condition maintenance among others.”

He said with the Tema Port expansion project presently underway, it had become imperative to retool the authority’s operations by investing in modern logistics in order to meet new trends in shipping.

“Our projection is for Ghana’s ports to become a sub-regional trade hub, thus it is necessary we invest in logistics to ensure a full utilisation of our facilities,” Adorkor suggested.

He also allayed fears about the maintenance of the machinery, saying: “The GPHA upholds the highest form of maintenance culture, which he said had seen previous machinery that were acquired over two decades ago still being used for port operations.

The Marine Engineer at the GPHA, Commander Stephen Seidu, indicated that the tug boats could have been manufactured here in Ghana if the Tema Shipyard had been well utilised and the ship building element was being implemented.

An official of the Damen Shipbuilding, who handed over the tug boats to the GPHA, Capt Ralph Vander Steen, gave an assurance that his company would replace any part of the tug boats if they were found to be ineffective at any point.  Source: Graphic.


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