THE Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has asked for a stronger collaboration between players in the maritime industry and the authority to help grow the country’s trade volumes.
Such collaboration, it said should precede the creation of a robust system that would prevent entities operating at the ports from making policy decisions that would hinder trade growth.
The General Manager in charge of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the GPHA, Esther Gyebi-Donkor, in an interview with GRAPHIC BUISNES on April 6 in Tema, said although the authority was investing huge sums of funds to market the country as a safe place for trade, policy decisions by sister agencies were hindering such efforts from yielding favourable results.
“All stakeholders in the industry need to work together to help increase the country’s trade volumes, but policy decisions made by sister agencies at the ports are inadvertently affecting efforts by the GPHA to grow the trade volumes in the country,” she said.
She noted that management of the GPHA and other key stakeholders had just returned from Niger where it met with the business community in that country.
She explained that the visit was to market Ghana to shippers in Niger to woo them to direct their trade through Ghana’s seaports. It forms part of a move to grow the country’s transit to Niger by at least six per cent by the close of the year.
Niger and the two other neighbours, Mali and Burkina Faso are the three main landlocked countries in the West African sub-region which are traditionally aligned in using the seaports of fellow Francophone countries in Dakar, Guinea, Abidjan, Lome and Cotonou to participate in international trade.
However, due to inefficiencies, high cost of operations, poor transportation networks, delays and political instability in those countries, economic operators have realised the need to diversify their use of seaports in the sub-region to impact positively on the lives of their citizenry.
Transit traffic through the two ports of Ghana have over the last four years steadily recorded annual growth from 609,320 metric tonnes in 2014 to 1,249,336 tonnes in 2017, representing an increase of 105 per cent.
Despite this positive trend, Niger’s traffic through the two Ghanaian seaports have taken the opposite direction with trade decreasing from 50,224 tonnes to 18,195 tonnes in 2017, representing a decrease of 64 per cent within the same period.
The delegation, led by the Board Chairman of the GPHA, Mr Peter Mac Manu, assured the government and the economic operators of Niger that Ghana had prepared itself to offer every assistance needed to allow commercially viable and cost-effective importation and exportation by the people of Niger through Ghana’s ports and corridors.
The Ghanaian delegation was also assured of the support of the business community in Niger.
Madam Gyebi-Donkor said the Nigerien shippers called on the Ghanaian delegation to position the county’s corridor to attract more traffic from Niger in view of unfair trade practices implemented on competing francophone corridors used by economic operators from Niger.
However, a few bottlenecks were raised by the Niger Economic Operators and government agencies such as customs, which included a request by the Commissioner General of Customs Division of Niger, Amadou Halilou that Ghana’s customs should make information on every good or cargo that leaves Ghana and destined to Niger available to them for effective monitoring.
They also charged the Ghanaian customs to address all challenges surrounding certificates of origin on merchandise that came from Ghana.
The economic operators also requested the delegation to assist in addressing a major concern regarding a private terminal operator, Bollore Transport and Logistics Company, which has been licensed by the government of Niger to weigh or handle all laden trucks using the Ghana- Burkina Faso stretch to Niger.
The siting of the Bollore terminal, coupled with their charges, is making the Ghanaian corridor expensive. They also requested Ghana’s ports to bridge the language barrier between the two countries by increasing information flow in the French language. — GB