Port users are being encouraged to continue to clear all goods at Ghana’s sea ports since cargo movements are exempted from the current restrictions on movements of persons in Ghana.
According to Esther Gyebi Donkor, General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs of GPHA the Port is clearing every type of cargo.
“We have not limited any of the cargo types. The protocols we have put in place have tried to reduce the number of people that come to the port at the same time to clear cargoes. But every type of cargo is being cleared at the Port,” she said.
National Economic Survival
Speaking on Eye on Port’s live interactive panel discussion on Cargo Clearance Procedures at Ghana’s Sea Ports Amidst Ongoing Temporary Restrictions on Movements of Persons, Esther Gyebi Donkor, stated that the essence of keeping the port open is to ensure the nation’s economic survival.
She advised cargo owners to liaise effectively with freight forwarders and truckers to clear their goods from the port.
“We have the clearing and forwarding agents who clear cargoes for importers so what we are encouraging them to do is for the importers to allow their agents to come in with the truck drivers to clear their cargoes for them unless it is very critical for the importers to be present.”
The Tema Sector Commander of Customs, Joseph Adu-Kyei echoed the relevance of continued cargo clearance in Ghana’s port in revenue mobilisation for the state especially in these critical moments.
“Government needs revenue so those who have goods at the port should come and pay so that government can get the revenue. Revenue is nose diving and it is a serious issue so please be patriotic and come and clear your goods,” he encouraged.
However, the two major institutions steering affairs at Ghana’s port maintained the importance of continuing its COVID-19 permit systems to ensure that the number of port users within this period of the pandemic is reduced.
Although opposed by the freight forwarding fraternity who said they would prefer their permanent biometric port passes to be sufficient for use, Customs and GPHA, explained that the permit will allow them to separate those who have critical engagement at the port from those have not.
Joseph Adu-Kyei emphasized that contrary to speculations, his outfit is flexible in giving out these passes to freight forwarders, importers and drivers who have legitimate business to do during this period of restricted movements.
He also revealed that the timespan of these new COVID-19 passes have been made indefinite.
“If you have goods to clear at the port, come to our office and we shall issue you with a pass which has no timeline,” he said.
Suspend Penalty Charges
Eddy Akrong, President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, complained that the current skeletal structure adopted by the various institutions in the clearance chain has relatively reduced efficiency and created some inconveniences in the supply chain.
“Some of these stakeholders are working with skeletal staff and business is very slow,” he said.
He urged government to intervene and ensure institutions in the port clearance chain such as the GPHA, Customs and the Shipping Lines waive port penalty charges like rent, warehouse rent charges, and demurrages, respectively during this period of hardship just as other sectors are enjoying some relief.
“What we are asking for is that there should be a certain general moratorium,” he said.
The Assistant Commissioner said state warehouse rents would be considered on individual basis.
Esther Gyebi Donkor said for GPHA to put out a general rent waiver on all cargoes during this period, not only would importers take undue advantage and reluctantly abandon goods, which would create congestion in port, but there would also be severe financial consequences for the Authority, who already have a lot of financial commitments to its employees, and maintenance of port facilities.
The GIFF President, however, expressed some misgivings on considering such penalties on individual basis.
“The problem we have with the case by case basis is that there is going to be a bureaucratic hell,” he stated.
The President of GIFF also called on shipping lines to start working on weekends to facilitate clearance transactions, since the lines charge demurrages for not clearing cargo on weekends even though they do not work on the holiday and weekends.