Shippers’ Authority Intensifies Trade Facilitation
The Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) has rolled-out a systematic trade facilitation mechanism to protect and promote the interests of shippers in relation to shipping, port and inland transportation.
The systematic trade facilitation mechanism is to ensure safe, reliable and cost effective maritime transport and logistics operations in Ghana, Dr Kofi Mbiah, GSA Chief Executive, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra.
The GSA is celebrating its 40th Anniversary on the theme: “Forty Years Of Providing Dedicated Services to Shippers in Ghana, Achievements, Challenges, and Opportunities”.
Dr Mbiah explained that the systematic trade facilitation mechanism manifested in GSA’s support and indeed its participation as a shareholder in the Ghana Community Network (GCNet) project.
He said the GCNet served as an electronic platform for quick clearance of goods from the port and for providing assurance for the collection of government revenue.
The GSA Chief Executive also said to accelerate inter-regional trade the Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding with counterparts in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger for the unfettered use of the Ghana’s corridor for transit trade.
He said two Transit Shipper Committees in Tema and Takoradi comprising relevant stakeholders in the transit trade had also been established for the purpose of discussing and eliminating bottlenecks in the transit trade.
Speaking on the highlights of the GSA over the past 40 years, Dr Mbiah said the Authority had represented the interest of Ghanaian shippers by making useful input to the Rotterdam Rules, the international legal framework for the international carriage of goods with a sealink.
Whilst at the local level, GSA had made representations to various agencies, protecting the interest of shippers in policies, measures and programmes, including the reduction in clearance steps from 25 to about 15, and the fixing of the foreign exchange rate for one week, instead of the daily changes in the rates.
He said GSA had undertaken cocoa freight rate negotiations, which contributed in giving stability to Ghana’s cocoa economy, and resulted also in cost savings to the COCOBOD and saved Ghana $10 million annually.
In 2013, GSA was able to negotiate the tariffs of the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority (GPHA) and that of Freight Forwarders, he said.
Dr Mbiah said the Authority periodically conducted research into problems and challenges confronting shippers and the findings led to the formulation of appropriate solutions to shippers’ problems.
“Research projects conducted have included those on pilfering at the Port ; Takoradi and Tema Cargo Clearance procedures; Taxes, duty and charges at the Banjul Port in the Gambia; and Evaluation of the Benefits of the Transit Trade in Ghana,” he said.
There have also been studies on the impacts of an upward review of shore-handling rates by GPHA; GCNet’s System on Cargo Clearance Procedures; and Demurrage Payments on the activities of Shippers.
The GSA Chief Executive said the Authority was also contributing to the Boankra Inland Port (BIP) Project.
Four hundred acres of land at Boankra in the Ashanti Region has been acquired for the construction of an inland port.
He said the Boankra Inland Port (BIP) project was being re-packaged together with the Eastern Railway line for development by Government.
“Indeed a Transactions Advisor has been selected to package the project for funding,” he said.
The GSA had established the Takoradi Logistics Platform (TLP), an oil service platform to be used by operators in the Jubilee Oil fields and other similar fields, he said.
Additionally, it had built the Shippers’ Centre – to houses SHIPPERS’ offices equipped with computer facilities for use by shippers and other operators in the transport logistics chain, he said.
He said: “A 12-storey Accra Shippers’ Center under construction is expected to house its Head Office as well as a ship brokerage hall, to create the medium for the establishment of a freight market in Ghana.
“It is expected to be a Centre of “maritime technology” linking the ports of Tema, Takoradi, the Kotoka International Airport as well as the Boankra Inland Port by satellite,” he said.
The Authority started operations as a subvented Agency under the ministerial supervision of the Ministry of Trade.
However, in 1987, with the passage of the Ghana Shippers Authority Cargo Sharing Regulations L.I 1347, the Authority weaned itself from government ‘s subvention and became a net revenue earner, supporting the foreign exchange requirements of Bank of Ghana.
GSA’s activities were initially supervised by the Ministry of Trade, however, overtime the responsibilities were handed over to the Ministry of Transport because most of the activities were related to the transportation of the cargo.
The move was also to conform to the practice in West Africa where other Shippers’ Councils, who were also members of the Union of African Shippers’ Councils, were under the supervision of the Transport Ministries of their various countries.