Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority

THE TRADE AND LOGISTICS HUB OF WEST AFRICA

VESSELS AT PORT

VIEW PORT STATUS
Latest News

Mar 27, 2020

The Director of Port of Tema, Sandra Opoku, the CEO of Meridian Port Services Mohammed Samara and the Tema Customs Sector Commander, Joseph Adu-Kyei have urged freight forwarders and stakeholders in the port clearance chain to take advantage of technology such as the paperless system, as the country strives to control the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking on Eye on Port’s live interactive platform, the industry players maintained that the Ports of Ghana remain operational, however, their individual outfits are undertaking effective measures that would ensure human interactions are reduced significantly so that the ports do not contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

24/7 Port

“We will still maintain the same level of service for everybody. We will work 24/7 with the help of Customs and GPHA, to make sure ships are coming in and out of the port,” Mohammed Samara said.

“We will also ensure that the number of port users, and casuals who enter the port is reduced. We would have to structure the number of freight forwarders entering our Golden Jubilee Terminal to clear their container. Maybe twenty people in a certain time frame and by appointment systems so that we don’t have a lot of crowding in our terminal,” the Director of Port of Tema, Sandra Opoku revealed.

The Tema Customs Sector Commander added, “we will not allow people to come into our offices because now we can see that the horizontal transmission of the coronavirus is very dangerous.”

Social Distancing

The Director of Port of Tema, Sandra Opoku, acknowledged the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and said the Port of Tema is considering more drastic methods of reducing human contact in the port areas, in addition to methods that have already been put in place over the past couple of months.

She revealed that currently not only are workers and visitors in the port screened on daily basis, and hygiene practices enforced, but GPHA has also ensured that its buses for transporting staff as well as official meetings are decongested greatly.

“With the meetings, we would not have to meet at a round table to discuss things. We will be doing the teleconferencing and things like that. Even the vessels coming in, we would have to limit the number of people on the terminal,” she disclosed.

Sandra Opoku indicated that the Port Security would ensure that crew change overs that hitherto was a common practice in the shipping industry is ceased completely in order to prevent imported cases of coronavirus through the sea ports.

“Now we would not be able to give assure passes to even crew who would normally bringing the cargo. So nobody would be able to go out.”

She also revealed that the port would, henceforth, ensure that the number of importers and freight forwarders who enter the port for their goods would be reduced significantly and in addition to that, a more robust appointment scheme would be deployed by the Port Authority to reduce the human traffic in the port.

“Now this family and friends’ entourage certainly that’s not the way to go. We will have to cut down on that. So if the shipping agent is coming and just one importer, then we’d allow you in,” she said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Meridian Ports Services, Mohammed Samara, disclosed that a crisis committee has been set up to address operations during this era of coronavirus pandemic.

Paperless Port

He entreated importers to make use of the effective data system that MPS has invested heavily in.

“We have invested heavily in the paperless system and we have successfully turned the Tema Port into a paperless port. We have invested in pay gates and we have a good number of freight forwarders who have registered and taking advantage of this pay gate. You can access your invoice online and pay online as well. I encourage everybody to do that,” he urged.

The CEO of MPS revealed that the Port Terminal is considering sending some of its administrative staff home where they can remotely work, while the operational staff observe strict preventive measures.

“We will start to look at converting certain positions and giving them remote access. We will reduce the number of people who are coming to office and have them quarantined at home,” he said.

Customs’ Measures

The Tema Sector Commander of Customs, Joseph Adu Kyei, said at the Tema Long room importers apply for changes in their manifest which can’t be done electronically so they troop into the long room to have their changes effected manually.

He said the Customs Division in addition to the provision of hand sanitizers and soaps, and running water at vantage points at its offices, full personal protective equipment have also been distributed to customs officers who go on board vessels and also undertake physical inspection.

“It was very necessary that we protect such officers, so we have been able to secure the protective gear for officers who go on board. So far we have about 20 of them.”

The Assistant Commissioner also said the Customs Division will reduce the workload of officers, and adopt a scheme that will make officers rotate frequently so that a large number of workers do not work at the same time.

“If it comes to the crunch, then we should do shift system within the team, and we break ourselves into small groups where some customs officers work at a time, and others later.”

 The Assistant commissioner also hinted that, Customs may adopt a drop-box system where documents are left in an information box and lifted by officers to work on and later picked up by freight forwarders.

“We have put a notice that, drop your application in this box where officers would come and take them for processing so that we will reduce the human interaction.”

Unlikely Port Shutdown

Mohammed Samara did not rule out a potential shut down of the port terminal should the local situation become worse.

He, however, stated that it is an unlikely situation and MPS is hoping to remain in operations due to the essential nature Port operations play in Ghana’s economy.

The MPS Boss admitted that even though container volumes have not reduced in Tema, there is a major concern by Port operators that if the pandemic reaches absolute severity in the long term, the Port is likely to suffer.

“At the moment, there isn’t any drop in volumes, but that doesn’t mean going forward we won’t,” he indicated.

The Director of the Port of Tema, corroborated the CEO of MPS’ submission, but described the resumption of work by factories in China as a silver lining as China remains Ghana’s leading trading partner.

Rent and Demurrage Waivers

Sandra Opoku said GPHA will consider waiving some rent charges that would be accrued as a result of a direct impact of the Port Authority’s measures due the coronavirus prevention and that would be done on a case by case basis.

She urged the Shipping Lines to consider similar initiatives when it comes to demurrages.

“We are all in the port community so once things like these come upwe have to all rally together. Right now we all have to make sacrifices and so we will be talking to our stakeholders, the shipping lines to look at their demurrages.”

Work Paperless and comply with rules

Both Mohammed Samara and the Sector Commander of Customs touted that the Tema Port operates a very reliable paperless systems and port users should take advantage of that and function remotely to prevent physical human to human contacts.

The various industry players called on the assistance and compliance by the general public in all measures deployed at the ports so that they can collectively complement the country’s effort to end the spread of the pandemic.

“To contain the spread, we need everybody on board. As we are sensitizing our officers, all other stakeholders must do same. When you come to us to do business, you must apply by our action points,” the Assistant Commissioner advised.

Read More
  • March 27,2020

    The International Maritime Hospital continues to invite the general public to get their heart screened at the ultra-modern facility at a discounted cost of GH¢250.

    Persons who visit the international maritime hospital to screen their hearts will as an additional package have the opportunity to check their blood pressure, body mass index, fasting blood sugar test, glycated haemoglobin test, fasting lipid profile test, ECG as well as free lifestyle modification counselling.

    A family physician specialist, Dr. Yaa Akyaa Boateng said the heart plays a crucial role in the human body, hence, the need for all persons to endeavour to know the state of their hearts.

    “We want people to walk around with a healthy heart. We want people to know they’re healthy, so just come in and let’s take a look at your heart,” she implored.

    She said person who want to book an appointment to get their hearts screened can call the number 0552222290.


    Read More
  • March 27,2020

    The Director of Port of Tema, Sandra Opoku, the CEO of Meridian Port Services Mohammed Samara and the Tema Customs Sector Commander, Joseph Adu-Kyei have urged freight forwarders and stakeholders in the port clearance chain to take advantage of technology such as the paperless system, as the country strives to control the spread of coronavirus.

    Speaking on Eye on Port’s live interactive platform, the industry players maintained that the Ports of Ghana remain operational, however, their individual outfits are undertaking effective measures that would ensure human interactions are reduced significantly so that the ports do not contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

    24/7 Port

    “We will still maintain the same level of service for everybody. We will work 24/7 with the help of Customs and GPHA, to make sure ships are coming in and out of the port,” Mohammed Samara said.

    “We will also ensure that the number of port users, and casuals who enter the port is reduced. We would have to structure the number of freight forwarders entering our Golden Jubilee Terminal to clear their container. Maybe twenty people in a certain time frame and by appointment systems so that we don’t have a lot of crowding in our terminal,” the Director of Port of Tema, Sandra Opoku revealed.

    The Tema Customs Sector Commander added, “we will not allow people to come into our offices because now we can see that the horizontal transmission of the coronavirus is very dangerous.”

    Social Distancing

    The Director of Port of Tema, Sandra Opoku, acknowledged the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and said the Port of Tema is considering more drastic methods of reducing human contact in the port areas, in addition to methods that have already been put in place over the past couple of months.

    She revealed that currently not only are workers and visitors in the port screened on daily basis, and hygiene practices enforced, but GPHA has also ensured that its buses for transporting staff as well as official meetings are decongested greatly.

    “With the meetings, we would not have to meet at a round table to discuss things. We will be doing the teleconferencing and things like that. Even the vessels coming in, we would have to limit the number of people on the terminal,” she disclosed.

    Sandra Opoku indicated that the Port Security would ensure that crew change overs that hitherto was a common practice in the shipping industry is ceased completely in order to prevent imported cases of coronavirus through the sea ports.

    “Now we would not be able to give assure passes to even crew who would normally bringing the cargo. So nobody would be able to go out.”

    She also revealed that the port would, henceforth, ensure that the number of importers and freight forwarders who enter the port for their goods would be reduced significantly and in addition to that, a more robust appointment scheme would be deployed by the Port Authority to reduce the human traffic in the port.

    “Now this family and friends’ entourage certainly that’s not the way to go. We will have to cut down on that. So if the shipping agent is coming and just one importer, then we’d allow you in,” she said.

    The Chief Executive Officer of the Meridian Ports Services, Mohammed Samara, disclosed that a crisis committee has been set up to address operations during this era of coronavirus pandemic.

    Paperless Port

    He entreated importers to make use of the effective data system that MPS has invested heavily in.

    “We have invested heavily in the paperless system and we have successfully turned the Tema Port into a paperless port. We have invested in pay gates and we have a good number of freight forwarders who have registered and taking advantage of this pay gate. You can access your invoice online and pay online as well. I encourage everybody to do that,” he urged.

    The CEO of MPS revealed that the Port Terminal is considering sending some of its administrative staff home where they can remotely work, while the operational staff observe strict preventive measures.

    “We will start to look at converting certain positions and giving them remote access. We will reduce the number of people who are coming to office and have them quarantined at home,” he said.

    Customs’ Measures

    The Tema Sector Commander of Customs, Joseph Adu Kyei, said at the Tema Long room importers apply for changes in their manifest which can’t be done electronically so they troop into the long room to have their changes effected manually.

    He said the Customs Division in addition to the provision of hand sanitizers and soaps, and running water at vantage points at its offices, full personal protective equipment have also been distributed to customs officers who go on board vessels and also undertake physical inspection.

    “It was very necessary that we protect such officers, so we have been able to secure the protective gear for officers who go on board. So far we have about 20 of them.”

    The Assistant Commissioner also said the Customs Division will reduce the workload of officers, and adopt a scheme that will make officers rotate frequently so that a large number of workers do not work at the same time.

    “If it comes to the crunch, then we should do shift system within the team, and we break ourselves into small groups where some customs officers work at a time, and others later.”

     The Assistant commissioner also hinted that, Customs may adopt a drop-box system where documents are left in an information box and lifted by officers to work on and later picked up by freight forwarders.

    “We have put a notice that, drop your application in this box where officers would come and take them for processing so that we will reduce the human interaction.”

    Unlikely Port Shutdown

    Mohammed Samara did not rule out a potential shut down of the port terminal should the local situation become worse.

    He, however, stated that it is an unlikely situation and MPS is hoping to remain in operations due to the essential nature Port operations play in Ghana’s economy.

    The MPS Boss admitted that even though container volumes have not reduced in Tema, there is a major concern by Port operators that if the pandemic reaches absolute severity in the long term, the Port is likely to suffer.

    “At the moment, there isn’t any drop in volumes, but that doesn’t mean going forward we won’t,” he indicated.

    The Director of the Port of Tema, corroborated the CEO of MPS’ submission, but described the resumption of work by factories in China as a silver lining as China remains Ghana’s leading trading partner.

    Rent and Demurrage Waivers

    Sandra Opoku said GPHA will consider waiving some rent charges that would be accrued as a result of a direct impact of the Port Authority’s measures due the coronavirus prevention and that would be done on a case by case basis.

    She urged the Shipping Lines to consider similar initiatives when it comes to demurrages.

    “We are all in the port community so once things like these come upwe have to all rally together. Right now we all have to make sacrifices and so we will be talking to our stakeholders, the shipping lines to look at their demurrages.”

    Work Paperless and comply with rules

    Both Mohammed Samara and the Sector Commander of Customs touted that the Tema Port operates a very reliable paperless systems and port users should take advantage of that and function remotely to prevent physical human to human contacts.

    The various industry players called on the assistance and compliance by the general public in all measures deployed at the ports so that they can collectively complement the country’s effort to end the spread of the pandemic.

    “To contain the spread, we need everybody on board. As we are sensitizing our officers, all other stakeholders must do same. When you come to us to do business, you must apply by our action points,” the Assistant Commissioner advised.


    Read More
  • March 27,2020

    As part of preventive measures to avert the spread of coronavirus also known as COVID-19, Management of the Port of Takoradi has begun the screening of all port users at the entrance and exit point of the port.

    Management has also ensured the availability of running water, soaps and hand sanitizers at all establishments within the enclaves of the Port of Takoradi as part of efforts to enhance hygiene procedures.

    The Medical Services Department of GPHA, has designated some staff to be specially trained as front line health officers to deal with all cases related to the coronavirus.

    In the meantime, in addition to sensitization exercises, the Takoradi Port has designated two separate holding areas to address potential cases of the coronavirus.

    Simultaneously, GPHA has suspended the intake of cruise vessels, port tours and academic internships due to the COVID-19. A GPHA Interagency Emergency Preparedness Committee on COVID-19 has also been set up to structure more effective standards of operating in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

    Earlier in Tema, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority in collaboration with the Port Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service, embarked on a sensitization drive within the port community to educate stakeholders on the new coronavirus emerging from the Far East, with special focus on its prevention.

    The month long sensitization campaign saw the allied team of health experts educate members of the fishing community, employees of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority at the various operational and administrative departments, stakeholders of GPHA including the customs Division of the GRA, the Meridian Ports Services, the Ghana Dock Labor Company, the Tema Shipyard, the Shipping Lines, the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, transport unions and freight forwarders as well as workers who work in and around the port enclave with the objective that all people who engage in some form of interactions in the port community are well informed about the disease.

    The various groups of people were guided on precautionary measures against coronavirus infection including good hygiene practices and the wearing of nose masks and gloves for workers who go aboard vessels.

    GPHA took the awareness program a notch higher, by training front-line officials from the Marine Operations Department, Fire and Safety Department, the Transport Department and the Tema Shipyard who directly encounter travelers to the port, as part of preventive measures.

    In addition, all entry and exit points at the Port of Tema, Golden Jubilee Terminal, GPHA headquarters, Tema Port Administration Block among other places have been screening staff and other port users before they are allowed into the Authority’s building.

    Again, hand sanitizers, water and soap have been available to staff and port users for use.


    Read More
  • March 27,2020

    An entourage consisting the Director General and some senior management members of GPHA has toured all key areas identified as entry and exit points of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority to inspect the level of preparedness of the Authority in combating the importation and/or spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

    In addition to the provision of hand sanitizers, soaps and running water, the Port Authority has ensured that all who engage the operational and administrative areas of the port have their temperature checked as the organisation is pursuing different methods to contribute to the national drive to inhibit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

    The Director General of GPHA, Michael Luguje said the Port Authority will ensure it puts together the needed logistics to augment the organisation’s capacity to help the national emergency action.

    “We are providing the necessary budget to get the resources that are required for us to be able to contain and prevent this pandemic,” he said.

    G.P.H.A. assures all of its cherished stakeholders that it is committed to doing any and everything in its power to safeguard the health and economic interests of all Port users and the country as a whole.

    In a related development, the General Manager of Health Services at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Dr. Vitus Anaab-Bisi has revealed that the Health Services Department of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, has designated some staff to be specially trained as front line officers to deal with all cases related to the coronavirus.

    He also said currently, drastic procedures are being taken to ensure patients who show symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), are not only given the maximum attention, but are also completely isolated from other patients and staff of the G.P.H.A. clinics. So far, no positive cases have been recorded from the sea Ports of Ghana.


    Read More
  • March 18,2020

    In a related development, the Women’s Wing of the Takoradi District of the Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union of the Trades Union, Ghana, has also celebrated the International Women’s day in a parade across the city of Takoradi.

    The parade was to sensitize the community, on gender equality in the Ghanaian society.

    Shirley Braimah, the District Chairperson of the MDU, called for the women in the maritime industry to serve as worthy models to encourage more women participation in the industry.

    “Our impact must be felt in the maritime industry. I want to tell the women not to relax. But we need to push to make sure that other mothers would see and say it is time to send their children especially the girl child into the maritime industry,” she said.


    Read More
  • March 18,2020

    Members of the Women’s Wing of the Tema District of the Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union of the Trades Union, Ghana, have met to celebrate the International Women’s Day to assess the general scope of gender equality in today’s world as well as deliberate on issues confronting women in the maritime industry.

    Abdul-Rahman Baidoo, Chairman of the MDU encouraged the first female Director of Port of Tema, to continue to play a key role in conscientizing the organisation towards increased women participation, especially in areas of leadership.

    The General Secretary of the Maritime and Dockworkers Union, Daniel Owusu Koranteng, said women possess some innate strengths even superior to that of men and should be allowed more opportunities of work in the maritime industry.

    “We live in a world now where it is not about the muscles or height, but the brain. Women have emotional intelligence and they are people-centred. They think about society.”

    The Director of Tema Port, Sandra Opoku, who was the guest speaker at the meeting, explained the essence of gender equality for global socio-economic development.

    “It is the precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development, and building good governance. You need women, because we are nurturers and because we make more than half of the population,” she asserted.

    She encouraged the membership of the women’s wing of the MDU, to stay focused on their various assignments, and stand their grounds at their areas of work, against any form of intimidation.

    “Because of your good work, other women would also be given the opportunity,” she urged.


    Read More
  • March 18,2020

    The Health Services Department of the Takoradi Port in conjunction with Port Health has taken significant steps to ensure that they curtail any spread of COVID-19, should the virus find its way through the port.

    According to the Head of Medical Services, Takoradi Port, Dr. George Tida Kabi, in preparedness towards possible contact with the coronavirus, there are two separate holding areas designated for the addressing any potential cases.

    The holding areas, which have been furnished with the necessary protective equipment and bed space, according to him is meant for solely those identified by the health authorities for having the disease.

    “These are solely for people who would walk into our facility and been identified by we the health personnel to have COVID-19. We would keep the person in our holding area, and trigger emergency preparedness, by informing the Regional Health Directorate,” he revealed.

    He said, his outfit is collaborating closely with the Port Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service, to ensure crew on board as well as clients and staff of the Port who show symptoms are quickly tested and quarantined where necessary.

    “Usually port health would get information that a ship is coming, and the crew list is available to them. They would first go to the ship and identify the client, and they would notify us,” he explained.

    The Head of Medical Services, Takoradi Port also revealed that the staff of the Authority have also been adequately trained in preventive measures.

    He added that intensive simulation exercises would be conducted as soon as the Management takes receipt of sufficient Personal protective equipment.

    “The process of procurement is about 90%,” he disclosed.


    Read More
  • March 18,2020

    The leadership of two freight forwarding associations, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, (GIFF) and the Association of Customs House Agents of Ghana, (ACHAG) have expressed the need for adequate preparations before government introduces a new vendor to take over from all existing vendors operating at the Ports and borders as part of the new customs management reforms as Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet) threatens to go to court if government wrongly terminates its contract.

    “I think government needs to go back and reintroduce it in a better format than what they are doing now. There are a lot of things they need to do to let us have confidence that this new system coming up is far better than what is existing now. There is lack of confidence in the system and that is why people are not too comfortable with it,” Yaw Kyei, President of ACHAG suggested.

    “It goes both ways. Assuming we decide to pull the plugs on the system while we have a contract, government will take us to court. So if government is doing the same and pulling the plug and not letting the company’s contract come to an end, clearly we would have to go through certain motions,” Carl Sackey, GCNet, said.

    This concern was raised on the live Eye on Port panel discussion, when some vendors and users of customs clearance processes expressed their positions on the incoming government’s new customs management reforms that is supposed to be driven by the UNIPASS technology operated by Ghana Link.

    Is UNIPASS Ready?

    Edward Akrong, President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, claimed the UNIPASS is not as functional as it is being touted by the Government, and the pilot program in some low-stress areas, is not yielding much results.

    “As we speak, go to the stations where the senior minister ordered the roll over, what is happening there? They are still using the GCNet and PAARS by West Blue system. So far, I have seen one declaration from Aflao,” he revealed.

    This according to him, made him wonder if the UNIPASS is at full strength to take over from the existing vendors, at stress areas especially in Tema which has not been fully tested with the system.

    “This is all not plug and play like it looks. Just get set ready to go! Once we plug, we don’t want to have any issues. When the frustration starts, and you cannot clear on time, and the clients are coming at you, and shipping lines are taking their demurrages because of delays…that is where the frustration starts,” he explained.

    Port Efficiency

    The President of GIFF asked why the case of the multiplicity of vendors and inadequate interoperability of systems is being publicised profoundly by the Government, as upon experience, West Blue and GCNet have been able to provide a seamless port clearance system.

    “We do not feel at the back end, how the transactions go through because it is seamless,” he opined.

    On his part, the President of ACHAG, Yaw Kyei, revealed that his outfit is excited that a single vendor is to be deployed to kick out the ineffective Cargo Tracking Notes as well as other vendors which had been a mistake from its inception.

    “Compliance is coming off the system, CTN is coming off, and CCVR is even off the system, and you can put in the BOE way ahead of time, and you can correct any issues before the vessel arrives. So, we are excited about that,” he affirmed.

    He added that his outfit is open to new customs management reforms once it would contribute to port efficiency and ease of doing business with efficient end-to-end customs management system.

    The President of ACHAG however stated that GCNet as an existing vendor may have equally been considered to lead the new customs management reforms since they have demonstrated competency over a long period of time.

    “That’s why sometimes we are also a bit more hysterical not knowing who is coming in. Whoever comes in and is able to offer services we are okay. I must say GCNet for example we have never had problems with them. They have offered services that we have very little to worry about. Assuming whoever comes in is the same or better than GCNet, why not,” he indicated.

    Inadequate training

    He said he was unhappy about the initial training arrangements that was being implemented by the team from UNIPASS but the situation has improved.

    “The start of the UNIPASS program had not been too good, but efforts have really been made, such as training programs.”

    Eddy Akrong however was of the opinion that UNIPASS hasn’t prepared users well enough ahead of their takeover of customs management systems.

    “One thing we also stress is that, the customs regimes are not just one. You don’t just do imports. You’re doing transit, exports, temporary importation, etc. If you do not go through all these processes to identify the issues therein, then we are going to have problems when we really start,” he expressed.

    Handover systems

    The Deputy General Manager, Technical, of the Ghana Community Network Services, Carl Sackey revealed that government via a letter by the Senior Minister has asked GCNet to handover its data and systems for review and eventual replacement with a new system to takeover customs management in Ghana, but a timeline was not set for that.

    He explained that so far as they still have a contract with Government till 2023, they will continue to execute their mandate for which they were contracted.

    “They haven’t given us an ultimatum that indicates a date to handover. There is nothing of the sort. We are still saying that, we want to execute the contract as specified which ends December 2023.”

    He said GCNet are happy with providing the state with the sovereign data of the country but cannot handover the other elements of the government demands, as they constitute intellectual property and giving them out to a competitor would be inappropriate and illegal.

    “CUPIA is the one providing the software which is the same thing GCNet is doing for Ghana. To want GCNet to handover stuff that constitutes intellectual property to a competitor, that doesn’t add up!”

    GCNet refuted the idea that it did not fulfil targets set for them and contributed to inefficiencies in the system. GCNet also said it did not have a problem of interoperability with other vendors.

    “It is technically GCNet and West Blue which are the two players in the port interfacing. I do not remember the last time we had a meeting or email to that effect, because the systems are working,” he stated.

    GCNet to see out contract or go to court

    Carl Sackey denied the notion that they are holding the country to ransom, and emphasized that GCNet are only focused on executing its contract, hence any impediment will be subjected to legal proceedings to bring about justice.

    “For us to accept anything, we would have to go to court. Because if government doesn’t see reason, we would go to court,” he emphasized.

    He stated that GCNet would continue to ensure that they have their systems up and running and are resolved to secure government revenue and ensure trade facilitation under the current conditions.

    “It is important that we note that as an entity that is interested in making Ghana work, whether government takes a decision to do parallel or not, we would have to continue to operate, because it serves nobody’s interest if the freight forwarders and importers suffer undue demurrage because of these contractual issues,” he assured.


    Read More
  • March 12,2020

    Government has revealed that it is going to eliminate all multiple vendors contracted by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies to provide services in the port clearance chain at the nation's ports and borders of entries and exits.

    “We want to replace the multiplicity of vendors with a single vendor. A single vendor that will be responsible for what we call the ‘End to End System.’ This is because at the moment, we have these sub-systems coming together to give us an end to end view,” he explained.

    Speaking on Eye on Port’s live interactive programme, a deputy Minister of Finance, Kwaku Kwarteng said government had an overall industrialisation agenda for the port industry which included three fundamental targets which are: Automating all ports clearance process, eliminating multiplicity of vendors that provide IT, capacity building and other services for MDAs and also have the Government of Ghana be able to own and control all data gathered through the port clearance process.

    Paperless

    The Deputy Minister explained that towards achieving a full automated port clearance process, the paperless system was rolled out by government which is largely considered successful.

    “It has been a good initiative and a lot of the processes are now done online. The issue of getting regulators to provide permits online, is one of the things the new system is working on at the moment,” he said.

    According to the Deputy Finance Minister, the current system of having multiple vendors providing end-to-end customs management has led to inefficiencies within the port clearance chain and subsequently reducing the expected revenue of government from the port and import trade.

    “Both the GCMS and the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System are owned by different vendors who consider themselves as competitors and you are asking them to complement each other for the benefits of Ghana’s Customs Regime. We did not quite get the kind of cooperation that we wanted,” he stated.

    UNIPASS

    He said, in pursuit of the agenda to have a single vendor operate at the ports, government has signed a contract with a Ghanaian company, Ghana Link who will be using a technology called UNIPASS which is a product owned by the South Korean’s Customs called, CUPIA.

    According to Kwaku Kwarteng, who doubles as the Hon. Member of Parliament for Obuasi West, the coming on board of the UNIPASS Technology will provide end-to-end port clearance services.

    “I have looked at the recommendation for many experts as well as customs and technical people who have gone to actually review the system and they recommend it is the system that can serve our purpose,” he indicated.

    Own our systems

    He said not only will the challenge of inadequate level of interoperability be solved by the new system, but Ghana would also get to own the IT systems and all accompanying data which the current vendors have absolute control over.

    He said the contract by government with the new single vendor will allow customs to gradually takeover the IT Infrastructure that will be deployed by the new vendor.

    “The decision to focus on a single vendor and to get GRA representing Ghana’s Customs have a direct relationship with the new vendor is the beginning of a culture of customs taking control over this. If you look at the new arrangement with this new service provider a lot has changed,” he disclosed.

    The Deputy Minister of Finance lamented that government had been worried over its inability to control and own a data provided through the customs management systems.

    “It was also about our ownership of our customs management systems. We have become so used to having private people do things that customs must be able to master and own. And the multiplicity of vendors with different contract terms and many of these systems not making customs the center of their operations; even if it was in theory, in practice it never happened,” he continued.

    Merge vendors?

    Asked why government did not consider to merge the existing vendors to harmonize the clearance processes, into one entity to solve the problem of interoperability, the Deputy Minister said this was not achievable as these vendors are competing private business entities.

    “These companies don’t forget, have other businesses doing. They’re just doing this as one of the things they do. So we to put them together to work together in all the things that they do? That was not something I considered,” he expressed.

    He said to strategically resolve the issue, Government had to introduce an entirely new vendor to provide end to end port clearance services, and the decision went through rigorous external international assessment.

    “It was recommended by the international consultants that did the work that we had to ought to have a single vendor, a single name, so we can focus on perfecting that system,” Mr. Kwarteng added.

    Judgement Debt

    He revealed that government does not anticipate any judgement debts to be paid as current ongoing negotiations are yielding positive results so far.

    “We have reviewed the situation and we don’t know why people keep talking about judgement debts when the current vendors exit. I do not believe at all there would be judgement debts. Government has said to the outgoing vendors that we are happy to enter into discussions to ensure that there is a smooth exit,” he emphasized.

    UNIPASS to bring savings?

    He said the new vendor will be paid 0.75% of fob which is higher than what is being paid two major existing vendors (GCNet and West Blue) which comes to about 0.68%.

    But the Deputy Finance Minister emphasized that savings would ultimately be made when the variety of services that would be provided are considered. Besides, there will be not increases in Port Charges whatsoever.

    According to the Deputy Minister of Finance, currently the new system has been deployed in a pilot program at 49 entry points of the country and is yielding positive results.

    Support UNIPASS Kwaku Kwarteng said the new UNIPASS Technology has come to stay and encouraged the various stakeholders in the port and shipping industry to embrace the change with a good attitude so together, Ghana can reap the full benefit of the investment.

    “Let us not discuss it in a negative spirit. We will proceed and perfect the system, so help us do so,” he appealed.

    He nonetheless gave credit to GCNet and West Blue Consulting and other existing vendors for being instrumental in making automation of the country’s port processes a success over the period of their existence.


    Read More
  • March 12,2020

    Meanwhile, as part of efforts to explore tourist sites in the country, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority Tourist Club has paid a visit to the only all-encompassing Aqua Tourism Destination in Ghana situated on the beautiful banks of the Volta Lake and the Hydro Electric Dam in Akosombo.

    Members of the GPHA tourist club had a memorable cruise experience on board the MV Dodi Princess II, which is Ghana's exclusive commercial cruise boat.

    GPHA is considering to have a cruise terminal in the port of Tema where tourist across the world could visit to rake in the needed revenue for the state.

    Considering the fact that tourism plays a critical role in the development of every nation, the leadership of GPHA management expressed gratitude to the management of the Port Authority for regularly supporting the club.

    They said they intend to explore all tourism sites in the country and entreated the management staff of GPHA to endeavour to be part of the club.


    Read More