Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), Benonita Bismarck, has said reoccurring issues on the transit corridors of the country threatens investments made to enhance port operations while being an affront to Ghana’s commitment to promote transit trade.
This follows feedback from the authority’s e-platform system, for monitoring Non-Tariff Trade Barriers along Ghana’s major corridors, that there are several road governance challenges involving transit truck drivers and key state actors. The state actors include the Police Motor Traffic and Transport Directorate, Customs, Ghana Highway Authority among others.
“Transit trade has over the years become a significant component of Ghana’s seaborne trade and has delivered tangible benefits to the economy of Ghana,” she said, adding that tangible financial benefits accrued to operators along the transit logistics chain. This, she noted is contrary to some widely held perception that the country does not derive any benefits from the transit trade.
For instance, she said an estimated “total revenue of US$34 million was accrued to the Ghanaian economy from some of the quantifiable services provided by the various operators involved in the delivery of transit services. These were payments for services in relation to the handling of transit cargo from both Tema and Takoradi Ports, State Insurance Company (SIC),” attributing it to a study done by GSA in 2015.
Ms. Bismarck, who was speaking at a day’s sensitization seminar on transit trade for senior Police officers, in the Ashanti Region, reckoned that there is a legal obligation imposed on littoral states, like Ghana, to provide landlocked countries to access to the sea-coasts for shipment of their international trade. This is also guided by several legislations, protocols and agreements which regulates the relationship between nations on matters relating to transit trade.
She explained that the GSA, given the impact of transit trade on the economy, has been championing its facilitation through Ghana’s corridors. These include the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with neighboring landlocked countries, quarterly meetings with representatives of the Shippers Councils of neighboring landlocked countries among others.
She said the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority (GPHA) also holds periodic trade missions involving key stakeholder organizations of neighboring landlocked countries with the objective of promoting Ghana’s ports. It is at the back of all these that the GSA organized the seminar to highlight the importance of transit trade and also address the key concerns relating to the conduct of the Police officers placed along the corridors of the country.
Ashanti Regional Manager of GSA, Isaac Tersiah Ackwerh, also said that Ghana is obliged to give unimpeded transit rights to landlocked countries. “This right, by extension applies to the use of our roads and rail network on transit corridors.”
He reckoned that the collaboration of the Ghana Police Service in facilitating transit trade along Ghana’s corridors is a great importance. He added that the Police Service is a collaborating partner in the establishment of the E-Platform initiative, of the GSA.
He, therefore, said it was worrying that in spite of these initiatives, the Authority is inundated with complaints daily. But he was hopeful that the workshop would help in addressing the bottlenecks.
Deputy Ashanti Regional Police Commander, DCOP David Agyemang Adjem, addressing participants at the workshop observed that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) is passionate about the effort of GSA in ensuring free movement of goods and services along the transit corridors of the country.
While acknowledging that road transport is very part of production, he added that the Ashanti Region has become an important hub in the road network of the country. This notwithstanding, he conceded that it comes with its own attendant problems. He was, however, optimistic that the workshop would help to address the challenges facing each of the stakeholders in ensuring problem-free transit movement.
He, however, called on the Sippers Authority to also ensure that operators of transit trucks comply with the road regulations of the country – especially safety of their vehicles, loading capacity, height restrictions among others.