Maritime commuter transportation is a must and a necessary option to Ghana’s transportation challenges nonetheless, operating a passenger or cruise vessel may come with certain challenges, a major one of which is the unavailability of a cruise terminal at the nation’s ports to enable effective commuter transport service.
In addition to this challenge is that certain operational activities at the ports, thus the movements of heavy container handling equipments along greasy surfaces makes the port unfriendly for passengers. Furthermore, certain terminals at the port (MPS) has a strict pedestrian free policy at its quay side to help prevent accidents thereby limiting the free movements of passengers at the ports.
Some of the above may therefore make it difficult to operate commuter transport service at the ports. However a compromise could be achieved through an effective planning. For instance the modus operandi for shipping lines is to have an inland container terminal where cargo is processed or consolidated into a container and then taken to the port (ship side) to be loaded onto a waiting vessel.
The same system could be implemented in a commuter transport where in this case the passenger becomes the “cargo” thus an inland passenger terminal is created (ie, outside the ports) where all documentation and organization may take place shuttle buses would then be used to transport passengers straight to ship side and subsequently on board the waiting vessel preventing to a great extent the possible passenger interference with operational activities at the ports.
Another difficulty that may arise might be the readily availability of a berthing space for the passenger vessel since the vessel cannot queue at the anchorage on the current first come first serve policy at the port. This challenge I believe can be curtailed with the right agreement with the port authorities hence a berth could be made readily available as and when needed, after all the port welcomes other foreign passenger vessels occasionally so this is possible.
In conclusion, I think with proper planning by the appropriate stakeholders and the right structures put in place, Ghana can start operating and reaping the benefits of maritime commuter transportation even before the completion of the proposed cruise terminal to be built as part of the ports expansion plan.