THE EARLY YEARS
Before the advent of the Port of Takoradi, there were sufferance ports sited at Cape Coast, Accra, Keta, Sekondi and Axim. Ships calling at these ports were anchored off shore and their cargoes transferred by means of lighters and surf boats. Owing to the dangerous surfing, the sufference ports were found to be unsuitable and also inadequate to cope with the fast expanding trade of the country. By 1919 it had become clear that the low capacity sailing ships with low draft could no longer cope with the heavy evacuation of Cocoa from the hinterland to the Ports of Accra, Winneba, Sekondi and Cape Coast. This necessitated the decision to build a deep sea harbour capable of accommodating high capacity iron ships then emerging from shipyards in Europe.
All the existing sufferance Ports were considered for the construction of the deep water Harbour. From December 1919 to June 1920, hydrographic surveys were initiated by the then Governor, Sir Gordon Guggisberg and Takoradi was chosen as the suitable site. From 22nd February to 20th April 1921, a committee was appointed to consider and report on the selection of a site for the deep sea harbour of the country. The committee submitted its report to the Consulting Engineers Messrs Coode Matthews Pitts – Maurice and Wilson, who agreed that Takoradi was unquestionably the most suitable site for the deep sea Harbour.
Despite pressures from England for the then Governor Sir Gordon Guggisberg to cut down on his Ten Year Development Plan stretching from 1919 to 1928 because of trade recession after the first world war, he retained the construction of the Port with two other projects in his development plan, namely: 4800 km motor roads construction and the Kumasi/Accra railway line. The funds for the three projects totaling about £12million were generated locally and farmers contributed a great deal of it.
Construction of the Port of Takoradi began in 1921 and was completed and officially opened on 3rd of April 1928 by Right Honorable J.H. Thomas, P.C LLD, MP. Secretary of State for the Colonies. Operations started on the 3rd of December 1928. The Port was constructed as the base of navy operations and trade capable of handling one million tonnes of cargo – both imports and exports. With the construction of the harbour, the railways and harbour came under the joint administration i.e. Railway and Harbours Administration.
During this time, Governor Guggisberg had thought that the harbour with its three berths (i.e. the Manganese berth, Berths 2&3) and the buoy berths would be adequate for the future traffic. From 1949, however, congestion started taking place at the port due to economic development and expansion of industries as well as the growing import and export trade. Through the initiative of the then Governor, Sir Charles Noble Arden Clarke, the Port’s extension works were begun in 1951 by Taylor Woodrow Engineering Company and were completed in 1956. The Lee Breakwater was extended, Berths 4, 5 and 6 were built as well as the Bauxite wharf with its aerial ropeway system, the passenger terminal, the oil wharf and Transit sheds 4, 5 and 6 were also built.