Business News of 2013-12-05

President Mahama commissions Takoradi Port expansion works

President John Dramani Mahama has cut the sod for the expansion works at the Takoradi Port.
The works, which form part of the government’s infrastructure expansion programme is being carried out in phases to modernize the country’s ports.
Addressing a number of chiefs and people of the Western Region, Mr. Mahama said since 1928, the port had facilitated much of the country’s international trade by serving as the main port for some of the country’s resources which included manganese, bauxite, cocoa, timber and other agro-forestry products.
He said the port had become the preferred port of call for many of the country’s land locked neighbours.
“Over the years the vessel sizes and the operational request on the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) had significantly changed, this situation requires immediate and radical solutions if the port is to remain competitive in the West African maritime environment,” he said.
The president said the ongoing expansion works would position the Takoradi port to meet the demands of the growing international market.
He said when the expansion was completed, the port would be able to segregate bulk cargo operations from containerized or roll-on roll–off operations since a new bulk handling terminal would be constructed.
He noted that the expanded port would be able to take in modern and bigger vessels, reduce ship turnaround time and also provide a service and logistic base for the oil sector.
He said upon competition, the port would provide employment to Ghanaians and that a minimum of 3,000 permanent jobs would be available.
He said after the expansion works the port would play a bigger role in the development of the Western Region.
He promised the chiefs that he would return to the region to cut the sod for the start of works on the Western Rail Lines.
He said the government would soon announce a major expansion works for the Tema Port, and added that it was his vision to implement the Sekondi/Takoradi Industrial City Program that would further open up the region in a manner that would give true meaning to the potential of the region.
The President noted that through the Sekondi/Takoradi Master Plan and the Western Regional Special Developmental Framework, government intended to consolidate growth and create additional space from the industrial expansion in the region.
He said under the Central Business District (CBD), government was working on the development of Sekondi/Takoradi free zone enclave.
President Mahama said an implementation team would be announced and charged with the responsibility to set up modalitiesfor the establishment of the Ghana Infrastructure Fund that was recently announced in the budget.
He said it had always been the commitment of government to improve the living standards of Ghanaians especially the poor and vulnerable and that large sums of money had been spent on the provision of economic infrastructure though there was still a long way to go.
He said state-owned enterprises like GPHA were attracting credit and finance on their own balance sheet and that this would help the government to implement the process of desegregation of debts.
He said state owned enterprises that had the potential to pay their debts would be transferred to debts service accounts set up by the companies under the Ghana Infrastructure Programme.
This, he said would significantly bring down the country’s debts to GDP ratio and it would also improve the country’s debts sustainability analysis.
He recognized the collaboration between the GPHA and Viking Offshore Support Services for developing the country’s first local content oil support base in Takoradi.
“The hub would service the entire West African oil and gas market,” he said.
The Area Director of Jan De Nul, the Belgium company executing the first phase of the expansion works at the port, Mr. Filip Morobe said the challenge the port faced was to prepare ahead for the future demand and that challenge was what the port was solving.
The Port of Takoradi is the country’s premier commercial port, opened in 1928 to facilitate the country’s international trade.
The location of the port had made it the preferred and ideal gateway to middle and northern parts of the country and the Sahelian landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
Leading exports include manganese, bauxite, forest products and bulk and bagged cocoa beans, while leading imports include clinker, wheat, petroleum products, mining equipment and containerized cargo.
In 2007, the country discovered oil in commercial quantities at Cape Three Points in the Western Region and as result of the port’s proximity to the oil and gas fields it had supported exploration and production activities at the oil and gas fields.