The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has marked this year’s International Day of the Seafarers with a call on government to provide seafarers with quick and decisive humanitarian action not just during this pandemic, but at all times.
The authority is focused on paying tribute to seafarers and acknowledging their sacrifices and the issues they face during this COVID-19 pandemic.
It, therefore, called on everyone, including government, to equally recognise seafarers for their ability to deliver vital goods which are essential in responding to measures aimed at overcoming this pandemic.
This year’s celebration was on the theme ‘Seafarers are key workers: Essential to shipping, essential to the world’.
June 25 marks the annual day of the seafarer, which was established by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) with the main purpose of recognising the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole.
The Ghana Maritime Authority, therefore, celebrated the day to promote and recognise the enormous contribution of the seafarer, whose occupation is on board a ship at sea.
Last year, the campaign was on gender equality, with the aim of empowering women to effectively and efficiently participate in operational activities in the maritime industry.
Under normal circumstances, the day of the seafarer campaign is organised to demonstrate how much seafarers matter to us.
On those special days, social events and activities are organised to honour the enormous sacrifices they make for our comfort.
With the unprecedented situation of the current global pandemic this year, the day of the seafarer campaign calls for the recognition of seafarers as key workers within the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
It also advocates for seafarers, the provision of support and to ensure that seafarers are given the recognition they deserve for keeping the world moving in these trying times.
Speaking at a press briefing to mark the day, Director General of Ghana’s Maritime Authority, Thomas Kofi Alonsi, emphasised that “the authority shares with the seafarer today, the personal frustration that prevails at sea and the exposure to sorrowful exile of life on the sea as the seafarer pursues a career which is a vital support mechanism for the global economy”.
He noted that, “In these challenging times, seafarers have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic as the world relies on them to transport about 80% of trade by volume, including vital food and medical goods, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods across the globe.
“As they continue in this heroic profession, they have become collateral victims of the crisis, as travel restrictions have left tens of thousands of them stranded on ships or unable to join ships. Many have already been on tours of duty significantly longer than the 11 months prescribed by the International Labour Organisation as the maximum length of seafarers’ contract,” he said.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments and local authorities have implemented travel restrictions and health screening measures for travellers entering or exiting the country.
This, he hinted, the Ghana Maritime Authority, being cognizant of these national restrictions in the context of the outbreak, has taken measures to ensure that where appropriate and with the consent and concurrence of other key stakeholders, ship crew are embarked and disembarked safely while observing established protocols.