Transit trade figures pick up
Confidence in Ghana’s economy by its landlocked neighbours of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, coupled with improved security along trade corridors, has steadily pushed up transit trade figures over the last few years.
Figures from the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) indicate that total transit and transshipment figures, as at the third quarter of 2016, stood at 772,744 metric tonnes, which is a 12.23 percent rise over the 2015 figure of 688,565 metric tonnes, within the same period.
According to the authority, the overall transit cargo throughput is expected to move further up by the time collation of the fourth quarter figures is over.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the GSA, Sylvia Asana Owu, told the B&FT in an interview that: “Business confidence in the economy as well as security on the corridor and a more conducive port environment made our transit partners more inclined to bring in cargo through our ports.
To us, it is quite encouraging and we can only hope for the better; hopefully the fourth quarter figures could push the throughput figures up.”
Transit trade through Ghana’s ports contributes to the national economy through job-creation-- specifically truck drivers, mates and dockworkers in the areas of trucking services—and largely government revenue from the sector.
According to the GSA, the haulage sector provides an average of 97,000 trucking jobs -- drivers and mates -- per year for the northbound transportation of transit cargo destined for the Sahelian countries, generating a yearly income in the range of US$81million for local haulage companies.
Transit trade, which saw a commendable eight-fold growth from 100,000 metric tonnes in 1999 to 800,000 in 2005, continues to be on the downside in recent years -- with 2014 figures showing a further decrease of 290,859 compared to the 2005 figure.
Industry players had blamed the continuous decline on rampant extortion, numerous checkpoints along transit routes and the implementation of the 60-tonnes axle- load policy which limits the amount of cargo that is carted.
In May 2015, the Ghana Police Service, in a bid to smoothen cargo movement along the country’s trade routes, issued a directive restricting police officers manning checkpoints and borders along transit routes, to allow transit cargo trucks uninterrupted passage.
The directive was expected to facilitate smooth and hassle-free movement of goods and services in ECOWAS countries, and ensure that transit cargo have free access along the country’s corridors to their destination.
As per the directive, appropriate checks on transit trucks will be made at the various points of entry, after which the truck drivers will be certified and issued with a document to facilitate free movement from that point of entry to the destination.
Even though the recent surge in transit figures reflects growing belief in the Ghanaian economy, Ms. Asana Owu said her outfit will continue to engage the various stakeholders to improve the transit trade business.
She told the B&FT: “We still need to do more to entice importers and exporters of the landlocked countries to continue using our corridor.
We are working seriously with the various stakeholders, especially the Burkinabe Shippers’ Committee, to effectively manage the movement of cargo along the transit routes and to ensure transparency and clarity in the cargo haulage process.”