The Treasury Manager of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Mr. Tebon Zumah, has revealed that GPHA is leveraging on Information Technology to soon roll out an electronic means for importers to access Port Authority’s invoices similar to the Ghana’s trading hub portal used to check estimated duties payable on goods.
According to the GPHA Treasury Manager, this is a step in the right direction for GPHA to tackle the menace of some fraudulent clearing agents who inflate GPHA’s invoices to take undue advantage of importers.
“We are within the IT era, so we would use IT to help address some of these issues. We think that we should give power to the importers to know how much they should pay. With the bill of lading, the invoice would be generated by a text message giving him or her the total amount payable. That would help stop some of these practices,” he said.
Speaking live on Eye on Port’s interactive panel discussion on falsification of documents at Ghana’s ports and its impact on doing business, Mr. Zumah lamented that the Port Authority is very focused on putting an end to this activity which does not only bring added cost to the unsuspecting trader or importer but also misrepresents Ghana’s Ports as highly expensive for business when they are not.
Call or visit GPHA
He urged importers to be circumspect and be on the outlook for invoices printed by their agents since some could be fake. He reinforced the need for importers to visit the port or call GPHA whenever they are in doubt to verify the right charges.
“What we want the public to know is that the agents have access to the invoices and they can manipulate it, so if you get it, be cautious. And if you can, make some time, come to the port to verify. You can reach Eye on Port’s hotline or WhatsApp lines and they could assist you,” he educated.
He also urged importers to acquire the GPHA account to pay the Port handling fees themselves in order to avoid the incidence of being defrauded or cheated.
“We want the public to be aware that you pay into any of the Ecobank or ADB branches. As an importer you have the prerogative to ask for the account details of GPHA and pay by yourself. In fact, if the agent gives you an inflated figure, once you pay yourself, GPHA would refund you the excess,” he said.
Addressing the level of publicity of GPHA tariffs, the President of the Association of Customs House Agents of Ghana, Mr. Yaw Kyei, who was also present at the panel discussion, implored GPHA to be do more in terms of education and making its tariffs more accessible and easily understood by the trading public as a means of equipping importers with the tools to detect falsification of documents.
“I know it is on the website but that is not ideal for the ordinary trader to access. We can get copies and give it to the trading associations. They can publish it in the papers. It shouldn’t be a problem. It should so publicised that the average importer would know how much a 20 ft. container cost to be handled and even the calculations for rent after cargo stays a period of time so that it would be quite easy for them. So when an importer has a clear idea of how much they are likely to pay, and the figure quoted by their agent to them is well beyond that amount, he knows he is being manipulated,” he suggested.
The Treasury Manager of GPHA, Mr. Zumah, who said GPHA’s tariffs are on the GPHA website, agreed that the Port Authority could do more to separate charges to bring better understanding to traders.
“The full tariff, from stevedoring up to shore handling, that is receipt and delivery is there as well as the rent charges, but perhaps we could separate only the receipt and delivery part and publish it in another form apart from just the website.”