The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and Meridian Port Services (MPS) have indicated that cargo volumes at Tema Port have remained as usual since outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide.
According to both authorities, even though there is an anticipation that the closure of factories in China during the peak of the pandemic there will affect volumes in Ghana, the hope is that the volume-fall will last for only a little over a month. They are hopeful that a volume shortfall will not last long, as Chinese factories have begun slow operations after the country began recording no new domestic cases of COVID-19.
Speaking on the GPHA’s Eye on Port TV programme, the Director of Tema Port, Sandra Opoku said: “So far, we have not had much reduction in vessel at the port; but going ahead from April to May, that will be the crunch and we will see if things will be gloomy. But if we don’t find a solution soon, I think that it will be big problem. The silver-lining is that factories in China have started working”.
Chief Executive Officer of MPS, Mohammed Samara, also reiterated that “at the moment we have not seen any drop in the volume. But that doesn’t mean going forward we won’t. Volume has been stable. We are on are still on target.
“The boxes that we are discharging this month are boxes that where sent into the country some time before China stopped production. Thankfully, China has begun production and therefore we expect to see a month or so of drop in volume; after that, things will resume as normal.”
He added that it is crucial for the port to remain operational during the outbreak, so as to support the country get access to essential products like food and medicines to keep citizens healthy.
Both port authorities have put in stringent protocols to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19, which had hit 52 positive cases as of Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
Already, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has announced the suspension of high-risk ships from berthing, port tours by students and institutions, and academic internships by students. Also, vessel crew exchanges have been prohibited at all ports in Ghana.
In a statement signed by General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Esther Gyebi-Donkor, the GPHA said: “Following the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ghana recording seven (7) positive cases as of March 17, 2020, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority has taken the rare but critical decision to suspend all port tours by schools and organisations with immediate effect.
“In addition to this, the Port Authority is liaising with shipping agents to identify all high-risk vessels that may be coming into the country for the necessary precautionary action to be taken.” The MPS, has also suspended port tours by students and institutions, and academic internships by students.