In May 2017, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia gave three directives at a port efficiency conference he organised to improve trade in the country.
The directives included the removal of all customs barriers on the country’s transit corridor, a joint inspection by all regulatory agencies at the ports and a hundred percent paperless transactions at the ports.
He followed up with a road up to guide the operators and agencies in the port clearance chain.
Ahead of the implementation of the directives, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, GCNet, West Blue Consulting, customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ghana Shippers Authority embarked on separate engagements with importers and freight forwarders to educate them on what they need to expect and changes that have been made on their systems.
Last Friday was a statutory holiday because of the Eid-ul-Adha celebration and the delivery units at the port which required clearance transactions did not function.
This means that the full functionality of the system could not be put to the test as a result of the absence of the usual traffic that characterises business transactions at the port.
But officials of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) said the ship side of port operations was functional last Friday and that two people made online requests which the operational team was able to respond to and serve appropriately.
“We received two requests for service from the Ghana Integrated Cargo Clearance System (GICCS) platform – one was a reefer container and the other was a dry container. When the requests were received, we were able to generate invoices and sent them back to the GICCS platform for the agents to have access,” the GPHA’s Corporate Planning and Monitoring Manager, Ms Josephine Gyima-Akwafo, said.
The port authority, however, says the implementation of the paperless directive has been successful so far.
On Saturday 2nd September, pockets of clearing agents came to the GPHA revenue center to enquire as to how they can commence the electronic payment system as part of paperless operations.
According to the General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs of GPHA, Ms Esther Gyebi-Donkor, the authority had made provisions for a customer service centre to assist agents to use the online systems without any difficulties.
“The number of people who came around to do the clearing had started the process already with the old system and so what we did was go through a transition period to allow them to clear those ones through the old system,” Ms Gyebi-Donkor said,” she said.
The Director General of GPHA, Paul Asare Ansah, the Director of Tema Port Edward Osei and the General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs at GPHA toured the various centres to ascertain the number of requests made by agents.