Trade practitioners are calling for expedited processes by government towards the safe easing of restrictions on land borders in order to facilitate trade across the country’s borders.Speaking on the Eye on Port program on the Impact of the Reopening of the Airport to passengers on Land and Sea Trade, the Executive Secretary of the Committee of Freight Forwarder Associations, and the Chairman of Customs Brokers Association of Ghana at the Kotoka International Airport, Nana Fredua Ofori-Atta, proposed the setting up of a joint border committee to handle the task of reopening of the borders to passengers.
He explained that many depend on the cross border trade as a source of livelihood and therefore all efforts should be made to ensure they are reopened early enough without compromising and relaxing the COVID-19 protocols.
“We have to consider opening the borders because we have to know that some of the businesses do intra-West African trade and they are not headload people. They have their trucks crossing. So we can consider a partial phase by phase approach to reopening the borders,” he proposed.
The President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Ghana, Ebo Hammond, on the same program, however, expressed the difficulty expected in the efforts to put the required COVID-19 protocols in place, due to the porousness of the country’s land borders.
He urged that a possible subsidized scheme of testing and screening passengers be put in place at the land borders compared to the situation at the airports.
“When the land border is opened, definitely the cost of abiding by the COVID-19 protocols may have to be relooked. Otherwise it will make travel by land very expensive,” he argued.
Mr. Hammond explained that such discriminatory approach is in order because of the frequency traders especially the ones referred to as headload carriers, trade across the land borders.
The National President for Borderless Alliance, a regional trade advocacy group, Ziad Hamoui who also contributed to the program, called on security agencies to assess whether the risk associated with cross border trade is higher which will inform the nature of restrictions to be imposed at the country’s land borders.
“Headload carriers usually operate within a relatively narrow geographic area, meaning they should be considered low risk, as long as they only operate within their communities. I think the case is worth investigating further with security agencies and immigration,” Mr. Hamoui opined.