Ghana Ports: End of road for corruption as paperless transactions take-off
As part of efforts to ensure smooth transactions at the ports and also curb the increasing rate of corruption, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in May 2017, gave three directives including the removal of all customs barriers
The much awaited paperless transactions at the Ghana Ports which is being implemented to essentially mark an end to the era of thievery and corrupt acts at the entry points has begun successfully with clear evidences of continuous progress.
As part of efforts to ensure smooth transactions at the ports and also curb the increasing rate of corruption, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in May 2017, gave three directives including the removal of all customs barriers on nt inspection by all regulatory agencies at the ports and a hundred percent paperless transactions at the ports to boost port efficiency and improve trade in the country.
These directives was earmarked to begin on September 1, 2017with the Vice President drumming home the order instructing the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to be conscious of the take-off.
In view of this, on Friday September 1, 2017 the ship side of the Port operations which was functional received requests from two people who were served appropriately by the Port Authority Authority’s operational team even though the Ports delivery unit which requires clearance transactions did not function because it was a statutory holiday.
According to Josephine Gyima-Akwafo, GPHA’s Corporate Planning and Monitoring Manager, they had received the two requests from the GICCS platform “one is a reefer container and the other was a dry container. When the request was received we have been able to generate an invoice and sent it back to the GICCS platform for the agent to have access.”
Also on Saturday 2nd September, pockets of clearing agents came to the GPHA revenue centre to make enquiries on how to make their requests on line.
The General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs of GPHA, Esther Gyebi-Donkor, also revealed that the Port Authority has provided a customer service center to assist agents to use the online systems without any difficulty.
“We were able to put our customer service in place. We ensured that all the people who came to the revenue centre to process the old forms we gave them detailed exposure on how they have to start making their request in the system from Monday”.
According to the Port Authority importers or clearing agents who had started the clearance procedures and made their request during the period of using paper before 1st September will be allowed to complete their paper transactions until all such transactions are gradually faced out within a very short transition allowance period.
“The number of people who came around to do the clearing had started the process already with the old system so what we did was we had to go through a transition period to allow them to clear those ones through the old system” said General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs of GPHA, Esther Gyebi-Donkor.
Meanwhile, the Director General of GPHA, Paul Asare Ansah, the Director of Tema Port Edward Osei and the General Manager, Corporate Affairs and Marketing at GPHA toured the various centres to ascertain the number of requests made by agents.
Paul Asare Ansah followed up with an official road map of the paperless process flow to guide the operators and agencies in the port clearance chain.
Ahead of the implementation of the directives, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, GCNet, West Blue Consulting, customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Ghana Shippers Authority, the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and a host of other stakeholder institutions including the freight forwarding associations embarked on several engagements with importers and freight forwarders to educate them on what they need to expect and changes that have been made on their systems.
The Port Authority believes the successful take-off the paperless operations will continue in the days to come and where there will be challenges, it will work gradually to perfect the system.
The Information Technology Systems providers for the paperless processes including West Blue Consulting Limited and Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet) have expressed satisfaction with the successful take-off of the Vice President’s paperless Port Directive.
According to them, with the new electronic systems of clearing import goods at the Port, Compliant Traders are to benefit from with their goods cleared hours within the new established KPIs.
However all Green and Compliant transactions as passed by the Risk Engine, will process their customs Release, Port Request for Delivery Allowed, Port and Terminal Payments, Way Bill, Loading and existing within 4hours.
They urged all illegitimate freight forwarders or clearing agents to register with recognized and registered clearing or freight forwarding agency in order to harness the full benefit of an automated clearing procedures at the Ghana Ports.
It however became clear as regarding the paperless transactions that some antagonists have stood against the system on the grounds that the introduction of the paperless scheme would eventually boot them out of work as majority of them have become kingpins in this field, milking the nation dry through their underhanded deals and acts.
But there are clear manifestations from the first two days of the implementation of the paperless transactions that these antagonists will indeed have tough times engaging in their corrupt activities at the ports.