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Business News of Friday, 22 February 2008

Source: GNA

GPHA wans ban on importation of second-hand goods

Tema, Feb 22, GNA -- Parliament was on Thursday called upon by management of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to formulate a law that would ban the importation of second hands goods into the country, saying that apart from congesting the port, they posed health and economic problems.

The goods including overused cars, fridges, clothing are dumped at the container terminals causing congestions at the port.

Mr Ben Owusu-Mensah, Director General of GPHA who made the appeal when members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport visited the port and inspected some facilities said, "such goods must be banned for the benefit of all".

Mr Owusu-Mensah cited the difficulty in movements of vehicles at the Golden Jubilee Terminal due to offloading of such goods at the terminal stating that the situation had become a great concern to the port management.

He said, "second hand goods such as cars that cannot move on their own must be banned from being imported into the country as they are a major cause of accidents in the country".

The GPHA Director-General further noted that even though management had wished to stop such goods from passing through the port, there was no legal backing. He therefore urged the legislators to help improve the situation.

Briefing the 18-member Committee on infrastructural improvement at the port, Mr Owusu-Mensah said terminals, including the fruit terminal under construction which, when completed would be used to store and load Ghanaian fresh produce such as mangoes and pineapples would increase the ports productivity.

He said container traffic had increased from 178,000 boxes in 2001 to 420,000 in 2006 due to the port's improved security equipment. He indicated that 75 per cent of cargo handling has been transferred to private organizations which included the Meridian Ports Services (MPS) with GPHA seeing to the effective management of infrastructure at the port. Commenting on the future plans of the GPHA, Mr Owusu-Mensah disclosed that it would build a four-star hotel and an ultra modern hospital as well as construct a truck park at Kpone for trucks that currently park alongside the roads.

Mr Owusu-Mensah mentioned the shortage of land as a major challenge to the GPHA and called on the parliamentarians to help eject individuals using the Black Star Line facility for business for it to be renovated and given to the Custom Excise Preventive Service and the Internal Revenue Service to enable them to effectively collect revenue for the nation as they currently lack the needed facilities.

Mr. Yaw Ntow Ababio, MP for Dormaa East and Vice Chairman of the Committee commended management of the GPHA for improvement in infrastructure and security at the port and promised to convey management's concern to the legislators.

Members of the committee toured the fruit terminal under construction, scanning department, marine block, Golden Jubilee Terminal as well as inspected expansion works at the container terminal.

Mr. Steven Osei Aniagyei, General Manager of Nick TC-Scan said the scan which is used to examine the inside of the containers by the use of cameras and radiations can scrutinize a maximum of 180 containers a day.

Explaining the usage of the "Vessel Tracking System" (VTS) at the marine block to the Select Committee, Captain James Owusu-Koranteng, Harbour Master said the Automatic Identification System (AIS) in the VTS is used to create a barrier along the Gas Pipe lines to prevent its damage.

Captain Owusu-Koranteng answering questions from the MPs noted that the AIS also enables GPHA to detect crime, monitor vessel movements within the coastal waters and Ports as well as mount security surveillance. The facility would also facilitate the dissemination of information to other vessels and vital areas. He further indicated that, if the VTS were in place long ago it would have detected the cocaine deal on the "MV Benjamin" and reported to the Security Agencies.