Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister for Trade and Industry, has expressed government?s willingness to address the issue of port congestion and facilitate infrastructural development to ensure port efficiency and productivity.

To this end, she said, about $500 million out of the $3 billion Chinese loan from the Chinese Development Bank had been channeled to fund the upgrading of the Takoradi Harbour to reduce pressure on Tema Harbour.

?This initiative will effectively prepare the country as we get ready to welcome Oil and Gas industry?, she said on Tuesday at the Association of Ghana Industries Business Luncheon on Congestion at the Ports in Accra.

The meeting, which brought together stakeholders in the transport and shipping industry, was aimed to deliberate on key issues affecting the ports and provide measures to address the congestion situation.

Congestion at the country?s ports is impacting negatively on trade and causing significant loss in revenue to the state.

The meeting, which was under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry served as a platform to develop advocacy for government action to reduce the menace.

Ms Tetteh observed the need to develop good and competent Port Management System to ensure efficient businesses at the ports since that was where most of the imported goods arrive in the country.

She said providing solution to the problem of ports congestion was not enough to ensure good businesses but also addressing related issues such as health and safety of the goods imported into the country.

?It is important for us to discuss other issues related congestion to help come up with good policies and measures to fight the menace in our Ports once and for all?, she said.

?Aside from receiving goods and services into the country from other countries for consumption, we also need to ensure they meet the specifications and standards of the country not to cause any casualties to consumers and the country as a whole?, she added.

The Minister said it was critical to develop policies that would ensure all finished goods imported to compete with local companies, pay full duties in order to protect local companies and also government?s tax revenue for developments.

She said a recent Logistic Index report by World Bank indicates that Ghana had made significant improvement in Africa, saying ?it does not make us the best performers on the continent?.

?Yes we can always pride ourselves as in West Africa we are doing well but let us not think about only Africa. We must compare ourselves to the Southern and Eastern Africa then we will realize there are a lot of catch ups we need to do?, she said.

Ms Tetteh expressed the hope that the long awaited In-Land Port, which had been in the pipeline for many years, would come into existence to cement Ghana as the gateway to Africa.

Dr Kofi Mbiah, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Shippers Authority mentioned some of the causes of ports congestion as limited purview of traffic forecast, ad-hoc establishment and licensing of off-dock terminals, no co-ordination and integration of facilities and other linkages and utilisation of port prime land for non-port specific operations.

He said the congestion had affected the businesses at the ports in many ways including economic operations of port authority, shipping lines and industry-shipper and cost and time consequences.

He suggested a review to focus on infrastructural deficiencies administration and legal framework to help foster improvement at the ports.

He called for removal of cumbersome processes associated with scanning, introduction of scanners in the off-deck terminal and initiate permits to be procured before containers go for scanning for an effective and productive port.

Source: GNA


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