Between the 16th – 18th century, foreign trade in the then Gold Coast was undertaken from about 40 landing points scattered around the Gold coast. By the 1900’s these had converged to six main ports of trade. From 1920 to the 1940s the transport witnessed its first revolution in the road and rail network which culminated in the construction of the Takoradi Port. Further road expansion and shifts in the direction of trade in the post independence era led to the construction of the Ghana’s second port “Tema Port”
Construction of Tema Port began in 1954 by Sir William Halcrow and partners. The general port plan originally comprised of two breakwaters enclosing an area of 500 acres of water with twelve berths, eight of which were situated on two quays, four transit sheds, offices, two cocoa sheds and sites for a dry dock, a slipway and a workshop. By 1958 construction was advanced enough to enable a cargo vessel the “Oti River” to berth. Regular traffic however started after the commissioning in 1962.
In 1963 a cocoa conveyor was commissioned to carry bags of cocoa from sheds to the ships at berths six and seven. On 18th June that same year Tema Port had its first tanker vessel call by “M/V” Avacus” berthing and discharging 17500 tonnes of crude oil through pipe lines to TOR situated three miles away.
The project continued with the beginning of construction of a shipyard complex in 1964. The Government subsequently acquired 64sqm of land north of the harbour for the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) to construct residential accommodation mainly for port workers. There was a slack in developmental activities between the late 1970’s and early 90’s.
From 1997 the expansion of quay two began with dredging of the port’s turning basin and the waters alongside berths one (1) and two (2). Construction of quay two began in 2003. The existing sheds were demolished to pave way for preliminary construction for the planned dedicated container terminal spanning 250,000sqm within the main harbour.
By 2005 the first phase of the dedicated container terminal being the construction of pavements, rail markings and installation of ship to shore gantries and rubber tyred gantries were completed. The Meridian Ports Services Ltd. was formed in BOT joint venture arrangement in 2004 to take over the running of the container terminal with the Bollore and APM Groups owning 70% and the Port authority owning the remaining 30%. Various reconstruction and restructuring activities run parallel to these developments. These included privatization of some major port services like stevedoring and shore handling; ISPS Code implementation and compliance.
In addition to all the above the cocoa sheds located at the western side of the port were pulled down and the adjacent vehicle car park was relocated to a privately owned and managed off dock facility to make way for the second phase of the container terminal. That period marked an increase in private sector participation in port operations and activities. Within the same period the port developed a marine complex and docking bay for its own tugboats in order to free general berths for commercial vessels.
In 2007 the second phase of the container terminal being the construction of a 140,000sqm container stacking area, reefer complexes and mechanical work shops were completed. At the same time, the Golden Jubilee Terminal which covered a 140,000sqm land area was completed. This off dock devanning area was aimed at decongesting the port and taking away all CFS activities from the main port.
By 2008 the port had exceeded its 500,000 TEU target expected for 2010 and thus began to work towards the developments stated in its master plan for the future. 75% of stevedoring services were privatized with the Port Authority handling 25%. There was similar expansion in private ancillary port services; off dock terminal activities, warehouses, bunkering and ship chandlery services amongst others.
In response to growing maritime trade demands in Ghana and the sub region, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority [GPHA] is upgrading and expanding the Ports of Ghana. Current projects completed in the Port of Tema include:
Growing local and transit volumes and trade demands combined with future projections have compelled medium and long-term port expansion activities. currently projects under construction is a dedicated 3.5 million TEU Container Terminal comprising 4 berths of 16metres draught which is the first phase of the port's development plan. The first Three berths are completed.
Other future expansion plans. Include: