Dr Kofi Mbiah, Chief Executive of Ghana Shippers Authority, said the un-cleared cargo list continued to grow and was choking the ports, making the Ghanaian shipper uncompetitive.
“In dealing effectively with the issue of port congestion, shippers will like to see the formation of an Emergency Congestion Reduction Task Force to meet with all relevant stakeholders and take action to reduce congestion of the port,” he said at the opening session of the 6th National Shippers day on Monday.
The two-day national shippers’ day is being marked on the theme: “Enhancing Shipping Competitiveness: Removing the Obstacles,” and will afford stakeholders to discuss how the industry can chart a new course towards greater efficiency.
In Ghana, over the last decade, seaborne trade has seen an average increase of about 22 percent per year. Total throughput in 2011 amounted to 17.985 million from 13.976 million tonnes for the same period in 2010.
The projection for 2012 is a total throughput of 19 million tonnes.
Dr Mbiah called on government to in the long-term de-emphasise the collection of government revenue through payment of duties at the ports and rather emphasize the use of duties as tariff barriers and strengthen the internal tax collection mechanisms.
He said this would provide an impetus to trade facilitation at the ports and would not lead to the institution of rigid and cumbersome clearance procedures to protect vital customs revenue.
Mrs Dzifa Attivor, Deputy Minister for Transport, said the Ministry through its maritime agencies were putting in place measures to address the congestion at the sea and land ports and other challenges such as excessive delays, cumbersome clearance procedures, and infrastructure limitations.
She said the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority had been asked to engage all relevant actors in the industry with the view to finding a permanent resolution to the congestion problem.
In addition, Mrs Attivor said the government was working on the planned expansion of the ports, including the deepening of the fraught of the berths, acquisition of equipment to improve port operations and development of new empty container yards outside the port in a bid to reduce congestion.
She called for collaboration from industry players in the implementation of the electronic cargo clearance to ensure that the goal of a single window concept of cargo clearance would materialise.
Besides, Mrs Attivor urged all importers and exporters as well as agents to make transparency of transactions a priority in order to enhance credibility and engender mutual trust between them and customs officials.
The day also saw the official launch of the Maritime Trade and Transport Digest, a flagship publication of the authority to provide relevant statistics to help shippers make informed decisions and to enhance government’s policy formulation.