I�m Allergic To Snakes � Prez Mills

President John Evans Atta Mills yesterday jocularly said he was allergic to snakes when he commissioned a fleet of four ships for the Ghana Navy recently brought from China. Playing on the word snake, a pun of the name of the ships, Snake Class Ships berthed at the Sekondi Naval Base, the president told the gathering that the commissioning grounds were infested with snakes and that he was allergic to the reptiles. The four ships, christened Blinka, a Ga-Adangbe word for black cobra; Garinga, meaning venomous viper in the Dagbani language; Chemle, an Ahanta word for a black mamba and Ehwor, an Ewe name for python, are modern fast patrol boats equipped with state of the art bridges for the Ghana Navy. President Mills, realizing that the four patrol boats were all named after snakes, remarked jokingly that �the whole area is now infested with snakes and I am allergic to snakes�. The four ships, which were built at the Qindoa Qianjin Shipyard in China, were ferried to Ghana on October 22, 2011 and were received at the Takoradi Harbour two days later. The acquisition of the four boats was a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Defence, Food and Agriculture and Poly Technologies Incorporated of China. President Mills indicated that with the addition of the four ships, the Navy should be able to maintain continuous presence at sea. He mentioned that investing in the Navy and other security agencies by re-equipping them should be viewed as a means of sustaining the peace and security needed for the development of other sectors. President Mills noted that the country�s maritime domain extended to diverse areas including various species of fish, oil, gas and many minerals which needed to be protected for the economic development of the present and future generations. He revealed that in the course of the year, the country would take delivery of two newly refurbished ex-German Navy fast attack crafts currently undergoing refitting in Germany. �With the increasing incidents of piracy and other related maritime crimes, we have no option than to equip our Navy to be able to guarantee a secure environment where all legitimate entities can operate freely without hindrance�, the President noted. He mentioned that the boats would also help the Navy deal with other threats including drug trafficking, arms smuggling, dumping of toxic waste, illegal bunkering and fishing as well as pair trawling. The Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith, indicated that security at the oil fields had been a challenge because of the lack of logistics, and noted that the four ships would help solve the problems. He added that the acquisition of the ships was in partial fulfilment of government�s commitment to ensure that the security services were properly equipped to perform their roles effectively. Rear Admiral Matthew Quashie, Chief of Naval Staff, mentioned that even though the defence of the maritime waters of Ghana revolved around the Ghana Navy, it was ready to adequately meet the challenges of ensuring safety in the 64,00 square nautical miles Exclusive Economic zone. He was therefore excited that the challenges facing the Navy had attracted the attention of government, and a strategic plan to revamp and strengthen the Navy had been drawn up. Zhang Zhengao, President of the China Poly Group, disclosed that China had attached great importance to the progress of Africa and that his country had invested a total amount exceeding $10 billion in Africa by the end of 2010.