Players in the shipping fraternity have backed the implementation of the container disinfection exercise scheduled to start next week at the country’s seaports.
Despite previous agitations, the players, which consist of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Association of Customs House Agents, Importers and Exporters Association and Food and Beverages Association of Ghana, have made a U-turn to fully throw their support behind the exercise.
The decision followed a year of consultations by stakeholders, which was agreed that the exercise be extended to include Kotoka International Airport (KIA), senior high schools (SHS), various markets and all the exit and entry point of the country.
The exercise is in line with laid-down bio-security measures of the International Health Regulations (IHR) and will serve as an effective response to Ghana’s need to be proactive in dealing with public health issues.
The International Health Regulations recommend routine and emergency measures at designated points of entry, and these include decontamination procedures at international container terminals, ports, airports and ground crossings.
Ghana, in 2007 – alongside other member-states of the World Health Organisation (WHO) – enforced the IHR, and in 2012 incorporated them into its national laws by virtue of the Public Sector Act (Act 851).
The President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng, said the decision to back-down on its opposition on the container disinfection exercise was based on a proper consultation by all stakeholders.
After successful consultations, he explained that implementers of the exercise had agreed to reduce the fumigation levy by 50 per cent.
“Implementers of the exercise have agreed to reduce charges for disinfecting one 20-foot equivalent unit (TEU) from US$20 to US$10 and US$40 to US$20 for 40ft container.”
Beyond the charges, Dr Obeng observed that the shippers believed that backing the exercise would be their contribution to help prevent diseases in the country.
“We take it as our social corporate responsibility to the society because we have agreed that the exercise be extended to senior high schools and various markets across the country,” he added.
The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association, Mr Samson Awingobit Asaaki, in an interview, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that stakeholders were all in support of the exercise.
“We have accepted the exercise on health grown. Most of our neighbouring countries are now recovering from the Ebola disease and so having such mechanisms in place will help prevent the disease,” he said.
Mr Asaaki called on Ghanaians to assess the overall benefit of the exercise which included preventing bio-hazardous infectious diseases from entering the country.
The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, stated that the container disinfection exercise would commence in the third week of February 2019.
He stated that the scope of the exercise had taken a national dimension as it now covered various areas, including markets and SHSs across the country, to allow for the majority of Ghanaians to benefit from the policy.
According to him, issues relating to the cost and parliamentary approval have all been sorted out, adding that the ongoing stakeholder engagements will be concluded soon to allow operations to take-off.
He added that disinfecting containers that come and leave the ports would help in disease surveillance and control.
LCB Worldwide Ghana Limited, a crisis management and prevention firm, has been contracted to execute the exercise.
The company was investing more than US$ 15 million in the project to execute its mandate of disinfecting cargos at the various ports and points of entry.
It had already set-up its operations with the construction of several tunnels at the Tema and Takoradi ports and other entry and exit points of the country to position it in a better state to undertake the exercise.