Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority News
2ND Week Of Paperless System Goes By With Relatively Fewer Difficulties But Largely Successful
The second week of the paperless transactions at the ports of Ghana successfully went by with relatively fewer number of clearing agents at the GPHA Data center to process documentations and clear their goods. The number of agents who wondered around the Customs long room were significantly reduced and most importantly the regular demonstrations that characterised the project before it was rolled out and during the first week of its implementation was conspicuously absent in this second week.
Unlike the 1st week which was largely characterised by interruptions in network systems connectivity and internet downtime, the second week saw a great improvement in that regard. Although in the early part of the week, IT systems providers struggled with drops in network connectivity, they were restored in no time and not much complaints resurrected again.
All two major transacting banks, i.e. ECOBANK and ADB could receive and transfer payments by the agents or customers both online and in-branch in real time as supposed to the previous week.
GPHA invoices had no errors on them and unstuffing charges reflected on the bills contrary to what was observed in the first week making the finance team of the Authority very comfortable and pleased.
However, there were a number of challenges in the first week that still reared its ugly head in the second week, hence demanding resolution as we enter the 3rd week of the paperless project.
First was the difficulty faced by clearing agents and importers to print their invoices from their offices or homes after they have made payments to the Banks, online or in-branch. Many of such agents trooped to the GPHA revenue center where a customer service point has been established to request for such invoices to be printed for them there. However after a day or so, GCNet was able to work on that challenge hence was resolved. But towards the end of the week, that difficulty resurfaced.
The second, was the difficulty of having containers not gating in from Meridian Port Services to the GPHA terminals on time. Many Customers complained about the delay in the gate-in process, but then again on Thursday the Port Authority had put in place contingency measures to have most of the containers gated-in so that they will be ready for pick-ups when the agents arrive by the 3rd week.
Another major challenge the agents and importers faced in the 2nd week of the paperless project was the inability of Custom officials to access the Joint Inspection Management Systems (JIMIS). This could not allow the officers to release the goods to the agents on time even when the joint inspection had taken place and the containers needed to exit the Port. Again on this, customs were discussing extensively with its technical partners West Blue who manage the JIMIS to resolve the challenge as we enter the 3rd week of the project.
On the other hand, whiles the Port Authority was being praised for establishing the customer service point at its Revenue center, others felt that such centers should have the presence of very high level officials leading the Project like Deputy Commissioners of Customs and CEOs of service providers so that there can be real time results when complaints are made especially in this early stages of implementation of the Project.
They also urged other agencies like Customs and West Blue to be at the customer service center and join GPHA and GCNet to listen to the concerns of customers and resolve them urgently as the paperless systems is being fine-tuned to attain perfection.

Deputy Minister Of Transport Visits GPHA To Acquaint Himself With Paperless Process
On 1st September, 2017 the paperless operations at the ports began officially following the directive by the Vice President of the Republic, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. It has been successful so far in spite of some challenges in the early operational stages, principally, poor network connectivity, errors with invoicing, inability of officers to access key platforms and so on all threatening the system which many have attested is the best way to go as a country, if we want to develop our economy.
It is fair, however to state that, most of those challenges have been well catered for in the 2nd week of the paperless transactions at the Port compared with what happened in the 1st week, raising hopes for a better future for the project.
A Deputy Minister of Transport, Daniel Nii Kwatei Titus-Glover have therefore called on the Port Authority, Ghana Customs and other service providers including GC-Net to ascertain the level of progress of the paperless project.
The Deputy Minister of Transport first met with the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and were received by the Acting Director General, the Board Chairman of GPHA, Peter Mac Manu, Director of Tema Port, Edward Osei as well as managers of the Port Authority.
General Manager of Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Esther Gyebi-Donkor briefed the Deputy Minister on the role of GPHA in the paperless project implementation so far.
She said “come first of September, we were able to deploy our condus-pro. And the clients were able to make their requests to take delivery of their cargo through the GC-NET electronically. It came into our condus pro, we were able to raise our invoices automatically, and electronically and submit it back to GC-NET with a PDF format. And the clients could go on GCNet, pick the PDF format if they want to, by printing it or if they just want to pick the invoice number, they do so and go to the banks to pay.”
The Deputy Minister of Transport, Daniel Nii Kwatei Titus-Glover and the GPHA team also called on GCNet, which is e-solution provider for government.
The Transit Manager of GCNet, Jimmy Allotey said “since we started the paperless, GPHA has been kind enough to give us a desk in the revenue centre. So we actually have one member of our staff over there so that at least the issues that come up could be resolved. We have also tried to position ourselves wherever we need to be. So in all of the terminals at the moment there is always at least one GCNet person there and including the CTSB, thus Customs Technical Services Bureau in GRA headquarters”.
The Minister and his entourage also called the ECOBANK office at the long room where they were assured by management that everything is moving on very smoothly.
“It is because we have prepared way ahead. We have also enrolled a lot of our platforms and we are ready for people to pay online and not to come even to the banking halls,” one of the ECOBANK staffs assured the Minister.
The team also met the Assistant Commissioner of the Customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority in Tema, Felix Mate-Kodjo to learn at first-hand, the level of progress thus far.
The team also met the leadership of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders.
The Deputy Minister thanked the Port Authority, Ghana Customs, GCNet and all stakeholders who are working hard to make the paperless system implementation project successful.
“I have been watching and listening from the side-lines. I know there are some Managers who sleep here. They come in very early, and they leave here so late, spending sleepless nights to make sure that we make this paperless project successful. So let me say a big thank you and really show appreciation for the sacrifices that GPHA, the management and staff are doing to make ensure that this flagship programme in clearance processes becomes successful,” he averred.


 
We Support Paperless System-Freight Forwarders
Freight forwarders across the country say they are in support of the paperless port operation system at the ports of the country, contrary to some reports that they are sabotaging the paperless port system.
Government began the implementation of the paperless clearing system on September 1, 2017, to speed up the process of clearing goods at the ports whilst blocking revenue leakages.
According to the freight forwarders, they are in full support of the system and doing everything possible to ensure the paperless system succeeds.
At the press conference jointly organised by the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Customs Brokers Association of Ghana and the Association of Customs House Agents, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, President of GIFF said they have part of the process since its initial stages and won’t sabotage it.

“This is the true reflection of the freight forwarders disposition to the success of the paperless project and this is a process we have been part of from day 1. We want it to succeed and we shall not suffer the naysayers’ prophecy to hold sway”, their president opinionated.
Hundreds of clearing agents in the past weeks have protested what they say is slow internet connectivity and poor handling of the implementation processes of the paperless systems which is leading to delays.
Kwabena Ofosu Appiah described a Daily Graphic reportage indicating that they were sabotaging the system through under declaration among other ills as false.
 “We have noted with extreme anger the attempt at riding on the stereotype to saddle us, we freight forwarders with the jerky start and erratic flow of otherwise great solution mooted by the Vice President of the land- we are referring to the paperless port operations” he expressed.
He entreated the customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to establish a strong support desk and manned by an Assistant Commissioner to help address challenges they face while going about the process of clearing their goods through the paperless system.


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Government To Acquire A Research Vessel-President Nana Addo
The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo has promised that government will soon acquire a research vessel to help in the monitoring of the country’s fish stocks.
“Government intends to acquire its own research vessel not of the size of the Fridtjof vessel though, to help in the monitoring of our fish stock”, he announced.
Nana Addo made the promise when he welcomed the new marine research vessel RV Dr Fridtjof Nansen, owned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) which made her first call to the Port of Tema.
The President expressed worry over the depletion of the country’s fishing stock, adding that government has put in place a fisheries, management plan to ensure long term conservation of the country’s waters and marine stock.  
“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing methods are depleting our fish stock. Our beautiful coastal wetlands are threatened by high volumes of plastic and metal waste that choke breeding habits for fish. This must not be allowed to continue. To this end, an inter-ministerial approach to curb this menace is in the pipeline,” he added.
The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Elizabeth Naa Afoley said government is committed to ensuring long term conservation of fish stock to ensure food safety.
“The key objectives of this plan is to reduce excessive pressure on fish stock to ensure effective fisheries legislation to strengthen participatory decision making and also to meet regional and international obligations in fisheries,” she said.
The research vessel which is in Ghana to assess the marine stock levels in the country’s waters is equipped for operations in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Her primary duties include ecosystem studies and emphasising fishery research operations.

GPHA Security, Ghana Navy Organise Water Survival Training For Security Personnel

The Security department of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority in collaboration with the Ghana Navy has organised a water survival training program for 30 security personnel at the port.
The training program was designed basically for the sea patrol unit of the department with the aim to better equip personnel with the necessary skills for ensuring safety of vessels, crew and all persons who engage the port anchorage and surrounding areas.


The training included day and night drills, basic communication, how to identify floods, diving off vessels together to seek asylum, rafting, turning over a capsized lifeboat, and how to use life jackets.
With this training, security on the Tema port waters is expected to be made sturdy in eliminating any dangers unlike previous occasions where some lives were unfortunately lost out of ignorance.
The Port Security Manager, Lt. Col. Nana Antwi-Darkwa who was impressed at the performance of the personnel said there was the need, for an increase in the number of sea patrol men to enhance their productivity.


“Once they work in the marine environment, if they should have any incident and they should go in for a rescue mission, they should have the capability to be able to respond positively and save lives. I would say my impression within the two weeks of training, that is, the initial training has been very good. I am impressed because from what I have seen, they have taken it very seriously,” he said.He continued that “they have been able to perform the basic drills to survive, keep themselves together and be able to rescue people till they have a rescue team coming to their aid.”
Dennis Yaw Krah, the Chief Diver at the Eastern Naval Command emphasized the importance of teamwork and added that the training is primarily intended to prepare the patrol team to eliminate the incidence of loss of lives at the sea port.
 

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