The Port Community is embarking on intensive educational program to regularly interact with the general public to keep them informed on the activities and processes at the port.
Speaking on the new interactive platform of eye on port which now allows the general public to interact live on national television, the leadership of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders said it is about time the general public become conversant with every activity in the cargo clearance chain to enable them follow the right path in clearing their cargo from the Port.
“Bringing eye on port to this level is all for us to be able to have time with the public and our customers, so we can educate, sensitize and create awareness on the issues that we believe is necessary for the public to understand,” the General Manger, Marketing and Public Affairs of GPHA, Esther Gyebi Donkor expressed.
“Eye on port is a brilliant game changer. I have said it in the past, but then you realize that when its situated in the port, sometimes it becomes a bit intimidating,” the President of GIFF, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah opined.
The two institution took turns to educate the public on the various roles of GPHA and the freight forwarders at the Ports.
Esther Gyebi Donkor, General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs of the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority on her part, emphasized that GPHA being the mother institution of the Port, is in charge of providing infrastructure, logistics and management of all Ghana's Ports.
“We have Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, who is supposed to plan, build, manage, develop, maintain also to operate and control the ports of Ghana.”
She added however that the Port Authority interacts with other stakeholders in the Port community to serve its customers including other state organizations and private entities.
“We have some of the major players as the shipping lines. We have the freight forwarders, customs, the importers and exporters and the Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Standard Authority and the EPA. These are all working in the chain to make sure that we are able to bring cargo to the port, discharge and then give it to the owners,” she added.
Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, President of the Ghana Institute of Freight forwarders, explained that Freight Forwarders are the first line of call for businesses and every importer or exporter who intends to clear goods at the Port.
“After having acquired these skills set to do customs business, customs issue you with a proficiency certificate and that qualifies you to become a customs house agent and it is the customs house agent that is invariably referred to as clearing agent or customs broker. The Americans use Customs broker. His or her role is to interface between the importer or the exporter and the port,” he revealed.
The GIFF President emphasized the need for the existence of freight forwarders as enshrined in the laws of Ghana in facilitating trade.
“Because Custom procedures are not that easy to just master at any point in time, the customs house agent have been trained to identify the kind of processes to apply and at what stage. So that is why we are a custom house agent. They have taken the pain to train us to do that bit of the job that otherwise, you would have walked to a custom officer to do. And maybe the custom officer might be able to deal with only you for the whole day,” he clarified.
Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, however, bemoaned the incessant rise of unlicensed and unauthorized clearing agents who engage in dishonest business transactions with the trader which makes doing business costly, and tarnishes the reputation of the good ones.
“When you come for quotations from me, obviously because I am in an office and my overheads are that big, it’s going to be different from someone you meet outside. So when you come to me and I give you a quotation and you go out there and somebody tells you that he can half it, know that you are subjecting yourself to a very high risk. And chances are also that when you commit and the person bolts away, you may never find the person,” the GIFF president disclosed.
The GIFF president called for importers and exporters to only deal with licensed and authorized clearing agents in order to get good valued service for their businesses.
“I will use this medium to urge traders on to approach offices, go to identifiable offices because when you go to the office, chances are that when there is a breach, you can trace the breach back to the office,” he advised.