The construction of a new harbour in Lom?, Togo, could divert maritime traffic and trade away from the increasingly overcrowded Tema harbour, which could seriously reduce government revenue, Mr. Charles Mensah, an industrialist and chairman of the Tema regional branch of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), has said.

?The risk we face now, which is a very real risk, is that there is a new harbour in Lom?, Togo, [which is] so modern that very soon a lot of these vessels would rather wish to call at the Togo harbour, and government revenue is really going to fall seriously,? Mr. Mensah, who is also the CEO of Myroc Group of Companies, whose activities include food processing and manufacturing, told journalists on the sidelines of the regional branch?s annual general meeting.

?The main harbour is so crucial to anything we do here in Tema, because I have a lot of members who import their raw materials through the main harbour. The harbour has become so small now that vessels do not like calling again, because they spend so much waiting time and they just don?t want to come. This is actually affecting both imports and exports,? he said.

Mr. Mensah wondered why, in spite of the increasing congestion, government went ahead and sold a parcel of land reserved for the expansion of the Tema port.

?Even if they say that they needed to create jobs, if that land had been left even as a container terminal, the amount of revenue government would have realised in a very short period, and the amount of jobs that it would have created, would have been far more than the peanuts they took for that land,? he said.

?We have to think of the fact that because of the oil industry in Ghana, imports have increased by about 27% and all these things are going through the main harbour. Just the other day I heard the Ministry of Trade and Industry say that all rice imports should come from the main harbour. How is that going to be? You have sold the land; the harbour is not growing, the country is growing, imports are growing, trade is increasing. How would that be?? Mr Mensah queried.

Container traffic at the Tema port has risen by 56% since 2009, hitting 822,131 containers in 2012, according to the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA). Traffic is projected to reach 3 million by 2028.

A US$115 million port and harbour expansion project has been on the drawing board of the GPHA for some time now.

Information on its website indicates that the GPHA has accepted a proposal from prospective investors in the Tema Port expansion project for an extension of the period for submission of their technical and financial proposals.

The shortlisted companies have been given up to January 27, 2014 to submit their bids.

By Basiru ADAM


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