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xxxxxxxxxxx of Thursday, 5 December 2019

Source: EOP

GPHA leads trade mission to Niger to woo investors

The transit business forms an integral part of Ghana’s ports’ strategic development, and as part of efforts to grow and sustain it, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, in collaboration with its stakeholders, periodically undertake trade missions to its landlocked partners to learn at first hand, some of the challenges the transit traders face in transporting their goods from Ghana to their various countries.

This year, the allied stakeholders of Ghana’s ports, including the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority, the Marine Ports and Railways Unit of Ghana Police among others have once again embarked on a 10-day Trade Mission to strengthen the existing bond between Ghana’s ports and the Sahelian countries as well as dialogue extensively about challenges encountered by transittors to achieve resolutions to various issues.

First, the GPHA-led delegation made up of the Board Chairman, Peter Mac-Manu, the Director General, Michael Luguje and a team of managers, along with leadership of Ghana Police, and Ghana Customs, first visited Niger’s capital, Niamey, where the delegation paid courtesy calls on the Niger Shippers’ Council, the Niger Chamber of Commerce, Ministries of Transport and Commerce and selected economic operators.

The Director General of the Niger Shippers’ council, Mohammed Ikta Abdoulaye, revealed that during his outfit’s visit to Ghana’s ports, a lot of the concerns they raised have been duly addressed.

He urged GPHA, to continually engage in education for the Nigerien importing public.

However, the Niger Shippers Council bemoaned some immediate concerns they needed the Port to resolve including, various barriers along the corridor from Ghana to Burkina Faso, inadequate time frame set for them to leave Ghana’s jurisdiction which they suggested should be extended to a month to allow for unforeseen circumstances.

They also raised issues of lack of reliable tracking devices, delay of transfer of containers to the Transit Terminals and harassment of Niger-bound trucks by Burkina security authorities during transit through that country.

The Board Chairman of GPHA assured the Niger Economic Community that Ghana’s port will remain secure and efficient.

“You can be sure that your goods, containers and your citizens are secured in Ghana,” he assured.

He also praised Niger’s support to Ghana in bidding to host the headquarters of the African Continental Free Trade Area and called for their continues support.

The General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs of GPHA, Esther Gyebi-Donkor, explained the issue of occasional delays experienced by shippers.

“That was as a result of our new Terminal 3 which is going to give us the capacity to be able to serve you better in future but as all projects normally during the beginning, we have teething problems,” she explained.

She further indicated that, as parts of GPHA’s attempts to ease pressure on clients affected by such delays, it has agreed to waive all storage charges that will accrue as a result of such unwanted delays.

She also revealed management’s plan to expand the transit terminal to tackle the imminent congestion at the current space.

“Management and the board is looking at it to relocate the terminal, we are aware that the place is constrained with space,” she revealed.

Bob Senyalah, an Assistant Commissioner of Customs, GRA, stated that his outfit has only one checkpoint across the corridor from Tema all the way through to Burkina Faso, so customs is definitely not accountable for the many barriers identified by the Nigerien transittors.

He added that Customs is trying to acquire more reliable tracking devices as soon as possible to aid the security and monitoring of goods destined for the transit countries.

“We are in the process of trying to identify reliable sources of acquiring tracking devices for customs,” he revealed.

He also revealed Ghana Customs are willing to negotiate an extension of the stipulated period allowed for transit vehicles to stay within the country after discharge at the ports.

“When we return to Ghana I will discuss it with the commissioner we will invite the delegation and see if we can sort it out and see if we can extend the time,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Joseph Ababio, Commander in charge of the Marine, Port and Railways unit of the Ghana Police, admitted that some of the police barriers along the corridor are not necessarily among the designated transit checkpoints however, they were introduced to check crime on the corridor.

“Many of them are there for the same security and safety of your goods and persons that ply the road,” he said.

The Director General of GPHA, Michael Luguje, said the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority would initiate a joint mission that will interact with the police to finally resolve the matter.

“One of the things we will be doing with the permission of my board chairman is that we will organize a joint mission to travel the road from Tema to Paga and interact with the police at these points to deal with the issue.”

GPHA trade mission delegation meets customs of Niger

The delegation proceeded to the Niger Customs where the Director of Customs, recalled a similar delegation in 2017, where disparities in relation to tariffs were discussed in order for Nigeriens to comfortably use Ghana’s ports.

He said Ghana can certainly be considered the natural destination for Nigerien shippers if all challenges in relation to tariffs are resolved.

He also lamented that there is no collaboration between the various corridors to facilitate the smooth flow of goods and services as well as information.

He appealed to GPHA and Customs to furnish his outfit with certified certificates of origin so they can authenticate all claims made by shippers.

Peter Mac-Manu, Board Chairman of GPHA, assured that the Authority is committed to strengthening the relationship with Niger so to great the best atmosphere for Economic Operators.

“Since it takes two to tango, it takes you and us to move the cooperation to the next level. We have pledged on our parts to look into and address the issues that you brought before us,” he stated.

At the Niger Chamber of Commerce, the Vice President of the Chamber, called for Ghana’s help in solving the problem of harassment when transiting goods through Burkina Faso.

The DG of GPHA, Michael Luguje, said there is the need for a multilateral cooperation between the countries involved in trade so that goods can move freely across the ECOWAS sub region.

The delegation also met the Trade Minister of Niger, who said he is aware of the many Nigeriens living in Ghana and expressed the hope that Ghana puts up some sound policies to attract part of that Nigerien International Trade business.

An open forum was organized at the end of the trade mission to Niger to discuss in detail the remedies that were suggested during the business to business meetings.

GPHA WOOS BURKINA FASO INVESTORS

The Trade delegation continued its mission to Burkina Faso where they were first hosted by the Director General of the Burkina Faso Shipping Council. The Board Chairman of GPHA, Peter Mac-Manu, emphasized the massive investment sunk into making Ghana's Ports more efficient.

“Ghana’s Port is number one in West Africa: In terms of man-power, equipment, berths which can accommodate bigger vessels, clearing and tariffs Ghana is better than any other West African country and that is our reason we have come to deepen our relationship,” he revealed.

The Director General of the GPHA, Michael Luguje also relayed one of the key concerns of the Nigerien shipper community to their Burkinabe Counterparts for redress.

“With regards to Niger cargo passing through Burkina Faso from Ghana, they believe that the facilitation within the Burkina territory is not the best that they expect in terms of checkpoints within the Burkina territory and issues with customs along the road,” he recounted.

At the Burkina Faso Ministry of Trade, the Chief Director of the ministry, said they are willing to partner Ghana to fashion out attractive policies that will push the Burkina Faso shipper community to the Ghanaian corridor.

The DG of GPHA, Michael Luguje raised the issue of lack of uniform documentation and harassment and called on the ministry to coordinate with other ministries to facilitate the transit trade.

“The goods coming from Ghana destined for the landlocked countries themselves, particularly Niger and Mali will have to transit through Burkina Faso. They have challenges with controls and bureaucracies within the Burkina corridor,” he emphasized.

The Minister of Transport, disclosed that a lot of initiatives are underway to curb the issue of harassment which has been a thorny issue for transporters across board.

Many major economic operators in Burkina Faso, reiterated the resolve to work with Ghana's Ports.

GPHA also assured the Economic Operators of better services. The delegation visited the Paga Border and admitted that the transit truck park there was in a very deplorable state.

The Board Chairman of GPHA and DG of GPHA, promised that the board will ensure the construction of an improved park in the next few months. “The board of GPHA has approved and is currently going through the tender process for a contractor to come on site to make this place attractive and clean,” he disclosed.