Surveillance Facility Commissioned

President John Dramani Mahama has inaugurated 16 million Euros Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMIS) funded by the government of Finland for the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA).

The inauguration ceremony, which took place at the premises of the GMA recently, was attended by the representative of the Ambassador of Finland, Members of Parliament (MPs), Council of State and the Navy, among other guests.

The VTMIS is an integrated system, which is similar to the one being used by the Finnish maritime authorities to enhance continuous electronic surveillance of the entire coast of Ghana.

The system also includes an Automatic Identification System (AIS) for vessels/crafts operating on the Volta Lake and a Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) of Ships functionality and weather sensors.

The President, in a brief address to the dignitaries and staff of GMA and guests at the event, said the project would immensely benefit Ghana.

He noted that the commissioning of VTMIS was timely in the wake of recent upsurge of piracy, drug trade, illegal fishing, high sea and inland water crimes.

President Mahama also commended the GMA and its collaborators for pooling resources to come up with the VTMIS to enhance their respective interests.

He urged other institutions in the communication industry to install a common control system.

He also urged the National Identification Authority, Social Security and National Insurance Trust(SSNIT) and the National Health Insurance, among others, to come together to introduce a multipurpose card acceptable for one-stop transactions.

The President urged the GMA, on whose premises the VTMIS National Control Centre is located, to ensure that excellent services are delivered to benefit the country and its neighbours.

The Minister of Transport, Mrs Dzifa Attivor, said the involvement of key stakeholders in the project was a demonstration of the co-operation by government agencies in the security and other sectors to pool resources to find solutions to the challenges confronting the nation.

She said under the agreement signed with the Finnish government, eight officers from the GMA had received training, both locally and in Finland, and eight more were undergoing training on the maintenance of the facility.

She commended the ELTEL Networks Corporation, contractors on the project for the successful completion of the project within three years.

The Director General, Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Peter Issaka Azuma, was happy that GMA and its collaborators had installed the VTMIS to provide electronic surveillance of the country’s maritime domain.

The Director-General of the GMA, Mr Peter Issaka Azuma, while welcoming the project , appealed to President Mahama to intervene in the impasse between the Ghana Shippers Authority and the Ship-owners and Agents Association of Ghana which was now before the law courts.

The Director-General further said plans were far advanced for the phase II of the VTMIS project to commence.

The phase II involves a contract with the Swedish government to acquire two work boats, three patrol boats and eight buoys plus a booster buoy to be located offshore to compliment the VTMIS project.

A representative of ELTEL Networks Corporation said the VTMIS project, the first in the sub-region, would immensely benefit the country and entire African region.

He was happy that the execution of the project had led to technology transfer.

By Solomon Ofori

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