The Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) is seeking the assistance of government to auction more than 3,000 un-cleared cargo containers that had choked the country’s ports.
The move is to decongest the country’s harbours and make space for the rising volumes of incoming cargo.
The authority has consequently mailed some proposals to the government to seek for a partnership with the private sector to sell the container cargo that had clogged the ports.
Chief Executive of the authority Dr Kofi Mbiah, told the Graphic Business in an exclusive interview that the congestion is one of the biggest challenges authorities at the ports are struggling to deal with.
Most of these containers came from China. According to Dr Mbiah, the problem was due to lack of information on the part of importers from China and other Asian countries, who import just anything without knowing the clearance cost.
“Importers from China and elsewhere must seek for clearance procedure and other relevant information before they import”, he said.
“In dealing effectively with the issue of port congestion, shippers will like to see the formation of an Emergency Congestion Reduction Task Force to meet with all relevant stakeholders and take action to reduce congestion of the port”, he added.
Dr Mbiah said in 2010, the total volume of seaborne trade amounted to 13,976,439 tonnes, rising to 17,985,810 tonnes by the end of 2011, with projections that by the end of 2012, the total volume of the trade would hit the 19 million tonnes mark.
The ports of Tema and Takoradi last year recorded a half year traffic of 10.1 million tonnes of cargo with more than a quarter yet to be cleared.
Some of the challenges at the ports include large volumes of uncleared cargo, congestion of trucks and the lack of competition in the stevedoring business resulting from the practice of cargo allocation.
He urged the government to inject the needed capital into the operations of the two major ports in the country Tema Port and Takoradi Port to provide the necessary infrastructure for development and expansion.
Dr Mbiah, is therefore proposing a public private partnership to clear the ports of unwanted containers. “We want an arrangement with the private sector, with the government having a majority stake to auction those cargoes in order to make space at the ports”.
Dr Mbiah called on the government to de-emphasise the collection of government revenue through the payment of duties at the ports but to emphasise on the use of duties as tariff barriers and strengthen the internal tax collection mechanisms.
But Transport Minister, Alhaji Collins Dauda said the government was working assiduously to source funding for further expansion of the ports in a bid to reduce congestion.
The expansion works include deepening the draughts of the berths, acquisition of equipment to improve port operations and the development of new empty container yards outside the ports.
“Government will continue to pursue reforms that will enhance competitiveness, including the needed improvements in the ports, in order to revitalise growth in the shipping industry”, the minister said.
Alhaji Dauda said his ministry through its maritime agencies, was also instituting measures aimed at addressing the challenges that had the potential of increasing the cost of doing business in Ghana and which impeds on the competitiveness of the shipper and negatively affects the survival of the import and export business.
He said as much as the government was determined to tackle the problems of shippers, it was also incumbent on all importers and exporters as well as their agents to make transparency in their transactions a top priority in order to enhance their credibility and engender mutual trust between them and customs officials.
He also called on the GSA, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to engage all the relevant actors in the industry, with a view to finding a permanent solution to the problem of congestion at the seaports.
Source: Daily Graphic
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