Comprehensive study on Ghanaian’s sea and airports has revealed the need for the country to implement the paperless policy, to improve efficiency.

The research report by the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) provided detailed analysis of the situation at Ghana’s three main port facilities.

GNCCI researcher, Mr. Julius Bradford Lamptey, presented the report at a stakeholder workshop on 24th August, 2017 at the Ghana Shippers House in Accra.

The report according to him says that, the study was undertaken in response to the growing response to the growing concerns by the business community about the difficulty or otherwise of doing business at the ports and the use of findings for advocacy, aimed at easing constraints importers and exporters face when undertaking imports or exports.

And the main aspects of port operations were examined as part of the study. These are the facilities at the ports, the procedures for doing imports and exporters when using the facilities. Two main methods were employed in the analyses.

First, “we reviewed the extensive literature on international trade in Ghana with particular focus on port operations.

While the second approach, involves a survey of importers and exporters from across four regions including Western, Greater Accra, Central and Eastern regions.

The methodology also involved in port operations in Ghana and two validations workshops in Takarodi and Tema.

In the last few years Ghana has experienced growing levels of trade, imports volumes have gone by about 14% 2010 and 2016. Exports volumes have increased by 64% over the same period.

In terms of value, both imports and exports have gone up by more than six times. Port facilities have not seen upgrade commensurate with the fast pace facilities compares favourably with port facilities in the comparator countries in the West Africa region,” Mr. Lamptey said.

He continued that, “Importers and exporters largely support this view and over 70% of our survey respondents described Ghana’s port facilities as good, just a few thought they are excellent.

In spite of the relatively strong infrastructure, the study also identified long container dwell times at the two main seaports.

Takoradi has container dwell time of 25 days with Tema having 20 days and these compare unfavourably with container dwell time of four days in Durban, 11 days in Mombasa, 14 days in Dar El salaam and 18 days in Lomé.

The relatively long dwell time in Ghana is as a result of several factors which includes the long and complicated 20 different procedures, mounted by the authorities to check abuses by stakeholders in the import and export trade.

Other factors include the activities of shippers, importers and exporters, who tend to use the port area as cheap source of warehousing.”

Again, the standard dwell time offered by Ghana Ports Harbours Authority (GPHA) is unrealistic from the point of view of importers and exporters.

The standard dwell time for which containers can remain in the port without the payment of demurrages is seven days and it includes weekends and public holidays, days for which all port officials are absent from official duties.

Thus, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), described the cost of doing business at Ghana’s ports as ‘’too high and unbearable’’.

On the forward, “we recommend a number of measures to address the concerns of importers and exporters and make the ports in Ghana efficient.

First, while acknowledging the on-going port expansion programmes, we recommend that given the growing levels of international trade, port expansion programmes should be undertaken by government on a continuous basis. The expansion works must consider both equipment and the physical space within the ports and the adjoining communities.

Secondly, there is a need for streamlining and simplification of procedures at the ports which require automation.

Thirdly, a review of the institutions at the ports must be undertaken with a view to eliminating some of them and avoiding costly duplications.

And all these should be done by taking on board the concerns of stakeholders for an effective implementation

The supporting agencies should not be allowed to use importers and exporters as cash cows for internally generated funds.

By:Sammy Adjei/Newsghana.com.gh