Dealing with congestion at the port
…expert calls for improved IT penetration
The Executive Chairman of the Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet), Dr. Nortey Omaboe, has urged the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) — operator of the country’s two ports — and other key stakeholders in the maritime industry to deepen the thrust of technology in all facets of the ports’ operations to improve the ease of doing business at the country’s ports.
Dr. Omaboe told the B&FT in an interview that the numerous interventions being rolled-out by the GPHA on a regular basis to ensure speedy cargo clearance at the Tema and Takoradi Ports will be defeated by the absence of streamlined cargo clearance processes and procedures.
He noted that due to increase in trade activities at the two ports — Tema Port and Takoradi Port — there is urgent need for an extensive deployment of technology to do away with bureaucracies along the clearance chain to facilitate seamless port operations.
“The recent growth in maritime trade in the country has seen automation of the clearance process, but there is more room for improvement.
“One area where technology can be leveraged to address the issue of delays in the cargo clearance process is coordination of the various agencies’ activities, because we haven’t fared well in that regard and I think there is no time for further delay.
“We have a lot of organisations engaged in various forms of interventions at the ports; we have the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, the Ghana Standards Authority, the Foods and Drugs Authority and Customs among others, and I believe we really need to look at things in a more comprehensive and integrated manner from point to point,” he noted.
“An integrated and well-coordinated system — from which all agencies operating along the clearance chain will operate — is the surest way of ensuring hassle-free, real-time and cheap clearance of goods at our ports. “This is also one way of eliminating the human interface, which has over the years proven to be detrimental to the cargo clearance process.
“Industry players must therefore adopt IT-backed measures that will help them leverage the opportunities brought about by the surge in trade at the ports. It is always important to figure out and identify the right systems that will work in the promotion of trade facilitation in the country.
“Automation is now bread and butter; you move into countries like Singapore and Malaysia which are highly advanced in terms of technological penetration in the clearance process and you know. The situation is not different, it’s nothing to do with the human capital; it’s a question of embracing the technology,’’ he said.