By Joyce Danso, GNA
Accra Oct. 11, GNA - The Chief Justice, Sophia A.B. Akuffo, has appealed to the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) to involve lawyers in Maritime Law education to improve on justice delivery.
“Lawyers are officers of the court and, therefore, building their capacity in this discipline will go a long way to improve the justice delivery system”.
Chief Justice Akuffo was speaking at the opening of the 12th Maritime Law Seminar for Judges of the Superior Courts in Accra.
The two-day seminar would afford them the opportunity to discuss topics such as ocean governance and maritime trade.
She noted that the world was changing at a rapid rate and traditional practice of merchants were assuming new trends.
Additionally, she said the advent of technology and increased globalisation, had introduced new challenges thus triggering disputes that required new jurisprudence.
The Chief Justice said to dispense commercial justice in today’s fast paced world, a greater number of judges must appreciate the peculiar nature of the industry in which the disputes arose.
‘’It is in this regard that the Maritime Law Seminar must be seen as necessary to appraise our distinguished judges of the rudiments of maritime law...”
She said even though the ocean was classified as common heritage of mankind, it was expected to be managed peaceably and in a manner that benefitted all humanity.
Ocean governance, particularly maritime boundary delimitation, therefore, has been and continued to be fraught with a myriad of disputes that frequently threaten peaceful co-existence among nations.
Chief Justice Akuffo noted that the recent maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and La Cote d’Ivoire “could have had serious consequences on our relationship with our neighbour, but for the wise decision of our leaders.”
She said ocean governance and maritime trade held numerous benefits for maritime adjudication in Ghana and that participants would gain a lot from the topics.
Mr Kweku Ofori Asiamah, the Minister of Transport, said government remained committed to positioning the country as the preferred business destination in West Africa, particularly in the shipping and logistic sector.
He noted that the maritime industry in the foreseeable future would continue to remain the main driver of intra and international trade that would stimulate growth and socio economic developments.
However, the Minister said the very nature of the industry could also contribute to illicit activities and crime within the maritime space.
Mr Asiamah said the growing threat and dynamism of the industry demanded that the country adopted a clear cut response, hence the need to deepen the understanding and knowledge on maritime related issues.
He explained that it was for that reason that government had made sufficient investment in the sector to ensure the country’s territorial waters were safe and secured for the exploitation of maritime resources and the growth of Ghana’s international trade.
“To ensure safety and security of the Maritime domain, the Ghana Maritime Authority had recently acquired five speed boats and two search and rescue boats to clamp down on the increasing spate of illicit maritime activities in our territorial waters and nibbing these activities in the bud before they fully blossom”.
Ms Benonita Bismarck, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority, said the strategic link between trade and national economic development could not be overemphasized.
She said over the last three years, Ghana’s cargo (seaborne trade volumes) had recorded an increase of over 25 per cent from 18.5 million metric tonnes in 2016 to 23.1 metric tonnes in 2018.
Ms Bismarck attributed the growth on the back of an impressive export performance, which increased from 5.5 million metric tonnes in 2016 to 7.7 million metric tonnes in 2018, representing a growth of 38 per cent.
“The increase in export volumes can be attributed to governments concerted efforts at improving Ghana’s trade balance through a strong export led growth strategy” she added.
The GSA had no doubt that training of the Judiciary in Maritime Law would go a long way to ensuring a vibrant, prosperous and stable maritime trade and transport sector for Ghana.
Very soon the country would become a centre for the adjudication of maritime cases in the sub-region, she said.