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Trade Minister Hannah Tetteh has announced that the government would use $500 million out of the $3 billion loan from the Chinese Development Bank to expand infrastructure and facilities at the Tema and Takoradi ports to enhance their services.
The Tema and Takoradi ports are said to have become congested partly because of the increasing volume of cargo, and the failure of some importers to clear their goods on time.
Addressing a business luncheon on the congestion at the ports in Accra, Ms Tetteh said “the government appreciates the congestions at the ports, and we have responded with pragmatic solutions which will take off very soon”.
The event was organised by the AGI in collaboration with the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) and other industry players on Tuesday, to engage authorities of Ghana’s ports and the trade minister on how to speedily resolve congestion at both the Tema and Takoradi ports.
Ms Tetteh said while expanding the infrastructure at the ports, all stakeholders should play their part to deal with the clearance process.
She said many importers presented falsified documentation, which added to the delays in clearing goods at the ports.
The electronic clearing system, hosted by the Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet), Ms Tetteh said, should be effectively used to hasten clearing, while the audit trail module could be used to track notorious and dodgy importers and facilitate a more speedily clearance for well-behaved ones.
Citing a recent Logistics Index by the World Bank, which indicated that Ghana had made significant improvements in Africa, she said the country should not be satisfied with that status quo because “it does not make us the best performers on the continent”.
The Director-General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Mr Richard Anamoo, called on the importing public to clear their consignments from the port in time to decongest the area.
He said many importers abandoned their imported items at the ports without clearing them or they did not cart them away after they had been released, while trucks broke down very often, creating a heap of congestion at the ports.
The Director-General said the port authority had to look for additional space to decongest the terminal due to the delays in clearing the goods.
Items left at the ports include earth-moving construction equipment which are zero-rated of duties.
The GSA estimates that demurrage and rents paid by shippers for delays in clearing items at the port had increased. Last year alone, the importing public (up to 85 per cent of them) paid $45 million in demurrage and GH¢20 million rent charges at Ghana’s seaports.
Mr Anamoo said although the port authority continued to undertake major expansion, with another one planned at the Takoradi Port before the end of the year and the Tema Port early next year, such ambitious expansions would not stop the congestion if users of the port did not change their attitude to clearing their consignments well in time.
According to the Bank of Ghana, total merchandise imports reached $15.9 billion in 2011, a growth of 46.2 per cent over the previous year’s imports.
Out of the amount, non-oil imports alone amounted to $12.7 billion, with consumption goods constituting $3 billion.
For the first quarter of 2012, total merchandise imports amounted to $4 billion, representing a year-on-year growth of 19.8 per cent.
Out of this, non-oil imports amounted to $3.6 billion of which consumption imports constituted $775.8 million.
The Director-General said such a huge jump in imports coupled with the arrival of imports by the mining and oil and gas companies, had worsened the situation which needed pragmatic solutions, which the port authority had already kick-started.