The Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has given the strongest indication that the disinfection of containers at the various ports and points of entry and exit in the country would commence in the 3rd week of February 2019.
Last year, the policy, which was aimed at fumigating all imported cargo upon arrival at the ports was suspended by government following some agitations by stakeholders who raised the concern of unwarranted cost implications on trade with the introduction of the facility.
But according to the Minister of Health, the scope of the disinfection exercise has taken a national dimension as it now covers various areas including markets and Senior High Schools across the country, in order to allow for the majority of Ghanaians to benefit from the policy.
The Minister of Health disclosed this when he, together with the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, officials of the Port Health Unit, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, representatives of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Officials from the Association of Customs House Agents, representatives of the Importers and Exporters Association, the Food and Beverages Association of Ghana among others toured the disinfection tunnels in the Port of Tema to have first-hand view of how the tunnels operate.
“This is going to do automatic disinfection, praying, just like you climb an aeroplane and they announce that by WHO international regulation, we need to spray the cabin and they do across, those of us who fly see these things, and it should be done in all ports. We are doing all these as part of our prevention mechanisms to try to ensure that we don’t get ill so easily, we don’t get afflicted with diseases that can be prevented. So when you disinfect, it’s like you’re not allowing infectious diseases to come in. That is one sure way we can protect our citizenry,”
According to the Minister, issues relating to the cost and parliamentary approval have all been sorted out, adding that the ongoing stakeholder engagements will be concluded soon to allow operations to take-off.
“Initially some of us didn’t understand the entire concept very well and think the problem we had is this engagement, explaining and educating people as to what this can do, the benefits and things. But now, it looks like we have gone beyond that, I believe that we will be able to commence operation within the next two or three weeks,”
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare on his part said disinfecting containers that come and leave the Port will help in disease surveillance and control.
“Ghana is joining the international world as one of the first countries in sub-Sahara Africa to do this. And it is a plus for everybody and it is going to help everybody in this country so that we will not bring in diseases that are not supposed to come into the country”
The Chief Executive Officer of LCB Worldwide Ghana the company contracted by government to undertake the disinfection exercise, Kareem Abu said the 7 tunnels installed at the Port of Tema are state-of-the-art tunnels.
“This one that we built here in Ghana now is actually the state of the art, it would be compared to New Zealand, Japan and even beyond because it is the latest technology that we are using. The idea is that as the vehicle drives through the tunnels it’s automated. The tunnel has a system that will pick up the movement of the car and it will discharge the vaporize disinfectant to disinfect the outer side of the container and that is the objective of this tunnel,”
Some stakeholders expressed their views on the proposed policy to disinfect containers at the Port.