Records of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), some dating back to 2002, were destroyed when fire gutted parts of the authority’s head office in Accra.
The incident took place a day ahead of an Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) forensic audit into the operations of the authority.
Fire gutted the finance department of the GMA last Wednesday, destroying every document and leaving the institution with no financial records in hard copies.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a backup of what we lost and the authority has all this while been keeping records manually,” the Director-General of the GMA, Kwame Owusu, confirmed to the Daily Graphic on Tuesday.
He explained that a team from EOCO was at the GMA to begin a preliminary forensic audit, but the fire incident occurred on the eve of the scheduled date (last Thursday) for the full audit.
He said investigations were underway to establish the cause of the fire and until then, he could not conclude whether the incident was arson to cover up malfeasance.
The GMA was established by an Act of Parliament (Act 630 of 2002) with the responsibility of monitoring, regulating and coordinating activities in the maritime industry.
It is headed by a director-general with a 13-member governing board, made up mainly of institutional representatives from key maritime agencies.
Mr Owusu, who assumed office in March this year, said he took over an institution in dire financial straits.
The director-general said the authority, in 2016, lost GH¢7 million as a result of financial impropriety, citing the lack of prudent financial management as responsible for the situation.
He posited that the financial immodesty found expression in the expenditure of the authority which far exceeded its income.
“The ideas I am bringing here are re-engineering and cost cutting. Things are now getting better and there is a lot we can do,” Mr Owusu said.
On how effectively the authority was monitoring the country’s territorial waters, Mr Owusu expressed concern that the GMA, since its inception, had no patrol boats to monitor territorial waters.
He, therefore, noted that he would champion an effort to procure more surveillance equipment and patrol boats to secure the country’s waters.