Story By Izuchukwu Ozoemena.
Ghana is set to play host to members of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African region, otherwise known as the ‘Abuja MoU’, as they convene for the 3rd Ministerial Conference and 9th Port State Control Committee meeting in Accra, the Ghanaian capital.
According to a release by Mrs. Mfon Usoro, Secretary-General of the ‘Abuja MoU’, the theme of the conference is ‘Tightening the Net: Regional Cooperation to Eliminate Sub-Standard Shipping’.
Transportation ministers will review and assess the implementation level of actions identified at the 2ndMinisterial Conference of 2010 and agree on further actions required to improve maritime safety and to help eliminate sub-standard shipping in the ‘Abuja MoU’ region. The conference will present opportunity for ministers to identify common areas of concern and ways to harmonize and strengthen regional cooperation on port state control practices.
During the conference, ministers are expected to make presentations on actions taken by their maritime administrations in the exercise of their Port State Control procedures in their respective countries within the region. They will also consider and approve recommendations of the ‘Abuja MoU’ Port State Control Committee aimed at capacity building, information exchange, harmonization and coordination of Port State Control practices and procedures. The conference will reinforce the roles of other key partners in the flag and port state control obligations.
The high point of the conference will be the issuance of Ministerial Declaration by ministers of transportation in the region to guide future activities of the sub regional body and the inauguration of Ghana’s Transportation Minister as the new ‘Abuja MoU’ chairman.
The conference will be preceded by a one-day 9th Port State Control Committee (PSCC9) meeting by the respective directors-general and chief executive officers of maritime administrations in the region to be hosted by the Ghana Maritime Authority and chaired by Mr. Fidele Dimou, Congolese Transportation Minister.
The PSCC9 is expected to deliberate on the historical performance of member-administrations in port state inspections for the past five years. The PSCC9 will also give directives that will enhance compliance with international conventions and other instruments on safety, security, environmental standards, working and living conditions.
The 17 member-states comprising the ‘Abuja MoU’ include Angola, Benin, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo, Gabon and Guinea. Others are Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Togo, South Africa and Liberia.
“Abuja MoU’s mission is to develop a system of harmonized port state control inspection procedure for the region aimed at the reduction and eventual elimination of sub-standard shipping, prevention of marine pollution and improvement of the living and working conditions of seafarers aboard ships,” Mrs. Usoro explained.