The Tema Port is to undergo the biggest-ever expansion at an estimated cost of $1 billion, President John DramaniMahama has announced. The project, to be undertaken by the government with private sector participation, will, among other things, tremendously increase the capacity of access routes and cargo handling spaces. Inaugurating new handling equipment for the Meridian Port Services (MPS) at the Tema Port yesterday, the President said the expansion would position the Tema Port to compete for the best port in Africa. He consequently challenged MPS, which is West Africa’s biggest cargo handling company, to partner the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to bring the project into fruition in the shortest possible time.
Equipment inaugurated at the ceremony included nine cranes and a four-megawatt electricity-generating plant. They are expected to enhance the operations of the company by improving efficiency in terminal handling and easing congestion at the port. President Mahama said when the Tema Port was established 52 years ago, the volume of cargo it could handle was less than 100,000 TEUs, but currently it could handle about 1 million TEUs. TEU is the standard unit for describing a ship’s cargo-carrying capacity. “That is a phenomenal increase but that increase has occurred in a situation in which the port has not expanded proportionately to accommodate the cargo,” he added. That was the reason why the government intended to go for a major expansion to make Tema the best in Africa, the President stated.
Details of port expansion
Giving details, President Mahama said the government intended to link the port with an efficient rail and road transport network. “In this regard, government is planning to build a new interchange at the Tema Roundabout to reduce the traffic to and from the port,” he said. The Accra-Tema Motorway is also to be expanded from four lanes to six lanes. With regard to rail transport, President Mahama said rehabilitation of the Western rail line from Takoradi to Kumasi would start in the very near future to help move some of the containers to Takoradi to serve the middle and northern belts of the country. “We also have a transaction advisor handling procurement of the Eastern railway line to link the Boankra inland port which has been standing as a white elephant for many years,” President Mahama said. He further indicated that an 80-km rail line was being designed to link Tema to Akosombo, which on completion would direct cargo from Tema to the Buipe Inland port to serve the three regions of the north, as well as Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
President Mahama said the country’s ports were competing with others in West Africa, and shippers would naturally prefer the port that had the quickest turnaround time and best efficiency in handling cargo.
The Chairman of the Board of MPS, AlhajiAsuma Banda, said Ghanaians and other nationals doing business in Ghana recognised the importance of the Tema Port and that was why everything had to be done to enhance activities at the port. He said MPS would continue to be a leader in port handling in West Africa and even beyond.
The Chief Executive Officer of MPS, Mr Mohammed Samara, said inadequate and underdeveloped infrastructure at the ports could hamper business development in the country. He said it was for that reason that MPS had systematically invested heavily in infrastructure to meet the needs of its clients.