Ghana’s Ports are not losing transit cargo to Lome -Customs

CRO/Officer in Charge, Transit, Gerald Agbettor & Council member, GIFF, Eric Adiamah

…as transit trade thrived well in quarter 1

The Customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), has debunked rumours about Ghana losing transit cargos to neighbouring countries such as Togo and Ivory Coast.

Speaking on the Eye on Port show on Accra based Metropolitan television, Chief Revenue Officer and Officer in Charge of Transit at the Customs division of GRA, Gerald Agbettor asserted that contrary to the claims, Ghana was not losing transit cargos.

He stated that the data for custom declaration showed growth in the volume of transit trade in the country.

According to him, the transit trade for the period of January to March 2024 increased by 136,000 metric tons over the same period in 2023 from 308,000,000 metric tons to 444,000,000 metric tons in 2024.

“Some time ago, I joined the chorus, especially transit business from the ports to the hinterlands, they say that Ghana is losing the transit trade to other places. By my background, I was able to have access to the data manifest and when I went through it, I saw transhipment to Benin, transhipment to Togo, and it became alarming. But the fact that it is transhipment on the manifest to Togo and Benin does not mean we are losing transit trade to them,” he explained.

Mr. Agbettor also disclosed that the rate of diversion in Ghana is low. However, he urged that security be tightened at the various ports and transit terminals in order to facilitate fair trade.

Furthermore, he lauded the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority for saving the Customs division of GRA a sum of GH¢90 million in their quest to curb the rate of diversion at the port.

He added that Ghana Link played an instrumental role by providing dedicated monitoring devices on the house-to-house containers that move from the transit terminals to the transit parks.

“It is not really rampant, but it does not mean security should be relaxed, it should rather be tightened. A meeting was recently held with stakeholders to gather data from them so it can be used to best serve customers,” he said.

A Council member of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Eric Adiamah, who was also a panellist on the show, agreed with the Chief Revenue Officer that transit in Ghana was thriving well.

He stated that the Port of Tema is the most preferred port along the West African coast by many landlocked countries. Nonetheless, he revealed that the country was losing some volume of transit to neighbouring countries due to regulations and high cost of doing transit business despite the quality services that the Port of Tema provided in terms of safety and security.

“Transit business is thriving well. Only problem we see as operators of transit business is the cost of doing the business. The volumes as my brother has said are from data I have no access to, but on the ground what we know is that we are losing some volumes to neighbouring countries like Lomé. Meanwhile, between Togo port and Tema Port, when it comes to security and quality of service, the Port of Tema is way ahead,” he said.

Mr. Adiamah said the regulations governing transit trade are sufficient to control the diversion of transit cargo at the ports and encouraged the GRA, Customs division to bolster its operational collaborations with freight forwarders in order to discourage them from participating in transit diversion.

As a further disincentive to others, he urged that those apprehended for transit diversion offences must be made to face the full rigours of the law.

“If the rules provided by the books are followed to the latter, monitored by customs and all the authorities, the rules as they stand now are enough to do the business. The new things they are bringing up, will not improve anything, they will not stop diversion, it will only worry people who do legitimate business,” he averred.

The Officer in charge of transit explained that section 95, ACT 891, 2015, (6) of the Customs Act allowed for escorts for high risked goods under transit when the Commissioner deems it so.

“There were suspicions that some high risk goods were likely to be diverted and because of that, we have to place escorts on them. So, it is not the entirety of the whole transit trade. High risk goods like rice, tomato paste, cooking oil, vegetable oil, ethanol, alcohol, diapers are being brought in more, hence, the directives from the Commissioner and Commissioner General that we should ensure that we put escort on them,” he explained.

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