An area has been allocated for the scanning of all exports at the Tema port with effect from this week, the Assistant Commissioner, Tema Sector Commander of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Alhaji Awudu Osman, has said.
The mobile scanner is intended to free the area where imports are scanned, reduce congestion as well as ensure that the goods, particularly fresh fruits, do not over-stay at the port to affect its quality.
Alhaji Osman disclosed this to a cross-section of newsmen after a familiarisation tour to the port by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah.
Alhaji Osman explained that the GRA, together with the port authorities, decided to scan exports because of some anomalies detected with regard to exports from the country.
“We all know the issues about the drug trade, some of which were being done through exports,” he said.
He said there were also instances where exporters mixed ‘irregular’ items with the goods declared on the manifest, thereby forcing the authorities to carry out the scanning before it gets to the country of origin.
“There are instances where people declare goods in the container but after scanning we notice bush meat or other things hidden among what has been declared,” Alhaji Osman said.
According to him, such incidents have serious implications on the exports.
He also indicated that there are many instances where the goods had been returned.
“If we don’t take care, such practices can affect our image and we must be careful, hence the scanning,” he added.
Alhaji Osman noted: “We have to take drastic measures to scan exports. Not all are scanned though. There are some items such as fresh fruits and food items which are scanned because people easily hide drugs in them.”
Alhaji Osman said the move was part of efforts by the authorities to check abuse of the port to facilitate the drug trade.
“Our officers are working extra hours to ensure that the exports are done fast to prevent delays,” he said.
He said the process of scanning export began about three weeks ago “and I think it will take a bit more time before we stop, that is if we have to stop at all.”
Alhaji Osman said where any of the exports did not conform, “then it will be placed for re-examination.”
Meanwhile, the government will from this year, start the implementation of a new centralised system intended to end the incessant delays in the clearance of import of goods through the country’s sea ports.
Known as the ‘Single Window system,’ it is expected to ensure that all documents required by the various stakeholders operating within the port area are centralised to enable easy access for verification and clearance, among other things.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, announced this when he paid an unannounced familiarisation visit to the Tema Port, the busiest sea port in the country.
Subsequently, he has set Tuesday, January 7, 2015 to hold a crunch meeting between the ministry and 14 other stakeholders, including other ministries operating within the sea port in Tema in a bid to find solutions to the growing challenges at the port.
It is also intended to make known to them the system to be introduced at the port from 2015 to make it more attractive and a first choice for importers and exporters in and outside the country.
According to him, the reports about delays in importing and exporting goods through the port were unacceptable and against efforts to enhance trade facilitation, hence the need to find an amicable solution to end the canker.
“I came here to see for myself what the processes are and challenges the various stakeholders, including the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Destination Inspection Companies (DICs), importers and exporters among other face here so we can fashion out pragmatic solutions to end them,” he said when he visited the GSL scanner area.