Some importers have expressed disappointment at government’s failure to enforce the joint cargo inspection protocol instituted at the country’s ports. According to them, there was a lot of hope when government announced the mandatory joint inspection of cargos at the ports; but a few years on, the initiative has been abandoned.
Speaking to the B&FT at a sensitisation workshop organised by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), the Chairman of the Korea Importers Association, Oduro Kwarteng, said importers would be happy if the mandatory joint inspection of cargos policy is enforced.
According to him, many importers currently spend several days at the port to ensure their cargos are inspected and cleared before they move out; a situation that is not only hectic but also costly. He said the policy would greatly improve ease of doing business at the port, and therefore government should push the relevant stakeholders to go back to its implementation.
“BNI, National Security, Standard Authority and other agencies have the right to inspect our goods and we would in no way dispute that; our worry is that it can take one week just getting all these agencies to inspect your goods. Sometimes we are frustrated because you need the goods out early to sell and pay some of the expenses you incurred early, but that is not how it goes.
“When the Vice President visited the port and mentioned there would be join inspections, it was done for a short time – and it really improved efficiency at the port for all of us. We want them to go back to it. They should all make themselves available on a particular day to do the inspection, so that it cuts down time and cost for all of us,” he said.
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia mooted the idea in 2017 for the various agencies to jointly conduct inspections to prevent delay in processes at the ports. The agencies include Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), National Security, Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), among others. The joint inspection of cargos by the various agencies was expected to save the time of ship crews and improve cargo clearance. As a result, the total inspection time was to be reduced from three hours to 45 minutes.
It was also to prevent corruption by shippers, as well as information-sharing and coordination among official agencies and law enforcement. The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority was to work with other departments to promote the practice at the country’s ports, but the importers say this good initiative was a nine-day wonder.
Mr. Kwarteng further appealed on behalf of the Korea Importers Association for the Vice President to pay an unannounced visit to the port and get an update on some of the initiatives he instituted. “We want the Vice President to visit the port again; some of the initiatives he pushed for are working effectively to the benefit of all, while others are not”.