Stakeholders in Ghana’s trade and maritime industry have gathered to assess the Paperless Port clearance initiative after a year of its implementation.
Ghana Shippers’ Authority, being the primary institution responsible for promoting the interest of shippers, assembled representatives of the various stakeholders of the paperless system to review their performances so far and address identified challenges for the future.
The Chairman of the program, Dr. Oteng Gyasi, in his opening remarks, said the Paperless system at the Ports of Ghana has been a beneficial initiative. He called for a concerted effort among key players towards providing a suitable end goal for the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shipper’s Authority, Benonita Bismarck indicated that although it has been widely accepted that the Paperless Port clearance initiative has been very successful, there have been some challenges that hinder the realisation of its full potential.
She expressed faith that the assembling of key stakeholders of the system gives the appropriate platform to address these hindrances in order to achieve the ideals of the Paperless initiative.
The Director-General of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Michael Luguje, stated that the Paperless system is endowed with so many beneficial facets to the trade and maritime industry.
He said the trade industry is a life-long dynamic sector and entreated stakeholders of the system, to endeavor to continue to be dynamic in their approach in order to reap the full benefits of the system.
Emmanuel Ohene, the Accra Connexion Sector Commander of the Customs Division of GRA, who represented the Commissioner of Customs, said Ghana has reaped several benefits ever since the introduction of the paperless clearance system, mentioning a reduction in clearance time, elimination of human interference, reduction of fraudulent activities, and ease of doing business as some of its achievements.
He said investment into capacity building is one of the ways to take the paperless to a higher standard.
Stakeholders brainstorm on 1 year of paperless port system
Meanwhile, the various stakeholders who play a part in the paperless clearance chain, presented accounts of their inputs as well as challenges faced so far. The Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager of GPHA, Esther Gyebi-Donkor said the introduction of paperless has eliminated the Tema Port revenue center, which housed a lot of daunting paper transactions, giving birth to an online platform integrated with service providers and allied banks, which has gone a long way to improve the ease of doing business.
She indicated however, that the lack of uniformity with the manifest of shipping lines as well as complications with the JIMIS have been major challenges to GPHA’s services. She expressed faith that collaborations with stakeholders would ensure an adequate remedy is put in place.
The Accra Connexion Sector Commander of the Customs Division of GRA, Emmanuel Ohene, said the Vice President’s directive of the mandatory joint examination, has been successful which has sped up the clearance process.
He also noted that the electronic submission of documents through the PAARS has made transactions more efficient and improved error detection. Service providers, West blue and GC-Net said they have collaborated with Customs and GPHA to provide a seamless clearance flow, while possessing a robust risk management system.
Their systems have ensured improved ease of doing business, and transparency in the clearance process. Carl Sackey, Product Development Manager of GC-Net said, improvement in some trade practices by importers would facilitate their work of reducing clearance times.
They expressed that with regards to the occasional downtimes, they continue to improve their systems to reach the objectives of the system. Adam Imoro Ayarna, Ship Owners Association of Ghana, said paperless has increased turnaround time of vessels, and the overall stress involved in dealing with customers has reduced significantly. He charged Ghana to revamp the export sector which would benefit both shipping lines and the Ghanaian economy.
GUTA expressed pleasure in the paperless system, noting that there is still room to improve. Yaw Kyei, President of ACHAG, said the paperless has improved the work of freight forwarders.
CILT urges government to boost security on Ghana’s territorial waters
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) has urged government to continue to boost security on the country’s territorial waters by investing in a state of the art maritime technology and the provision of surveillance equipment for the agencies responsible for securing Ghana’s maritime borders. The Vice President of CILT, Samuel Alphonse Attibah said this at workshop Organised by CILT to review maritime Security in Ghana’s territorial waters.
He said with efforts underway to expand Tema and Takoradi ports into bigger international sea ports, there is the need for Ghana’s territorial waters to be safeguarded to be able to accommodate the increase in cargo volumes. The Deputy Harbor Master for Operations at the Port of Tema, Stephen Senanni said the Port Authority is doing everything possible to curb the menace of stowaway in order not to dent the image of the Authority.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport says it will continue to lead the way in generating a national dialogue among its professional members on the role of maritime security towards building a safe, sustainable and prosperous country.
Marine police receives retrofitted patrol boat
The Marine Police and Railways Unit of the Ghana Police Service, has taken delivery of a retrofitted marine patrol boat built by Benlex Engineering and Marine Systems to aid its sea patrol activities.
The patrol boat belonging to the Marine Police unit, had been dysfunctional for some time and the CEO of Vision 2000, chose to sponsor the repair works. The Inspector General of Police, David Asante-Appeatu revealed at a handing over ceremony that the boat has been tested, and is in great shape to commence its patrol duties.
He said, the collaboration between the Benlex Engineering and the Ghana Police is going to continue because the Police Service are in the process of procuring new boats to better equip the service to ensure security on Ghana’s territorial waters.
GCNET committed to partnership with government
The Executive Chairman of the Ghana Community Network Limited (GCNet), Dr. Nortey Omaboe says they remain committed to partnering government of Ghana in pursuance of a strong path of promoting innovation in information technology which will go a long way to contribute to the transformation of the country’s economy.
According to him, digitisation has a critical role to play in the realisation of Ghana’s development agenda, hence the need for all key players in the industry to take advantage of this phenomenon to foster more collaboration and provide support for each other.
Dr. Nortey Omaboe made this known at the world summit Awards forum organised by GCNet which brought a group of experts to revenue innovation projects in Ghana and across the world.
He also lauded the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for revoking the licenses of some freight forwarders adding that malfeasance by the freight forwarders is set back from the country’s desire to achieve a seamless paperless system. Lauding the Authority for their efforts, he advised players in the industry to comply with the laws of the land so their businesses will thrive.
The Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Professor Frimpong Boateng on his part said the poverty gap is a technology gap and no country can grow without the capacity to manufacture.