Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority Benonita Bismarck has called for the continuous dialogue among relevant stakeholders with a commitment to help facilitate transit trade and with the view of ensuring that the country’s corridor remains the most preferred in the sub-region.
According to her, even though there are fundamental issues affecting the haulage of goods along Ghana’s corridor, a commitment to continuous dialogue will help remove teething bottlenecks for a desirous transit trade.
“Action and inaction of haulage truck drivers add cost to the shipper. There are delays in the return of empty containers resulting in detention charges, delays by loaded transit trucks to exit the country attracts penalties, changing the prescribed route for the transit goods also attracts a penalty while returning an empty container with debris attracts a container cleaning charge.”
She mentioned that a fact-finding trip in May this year on the Tema-Hamile corridor revealed a disturbing number of barriers and checkpoints which if not properly regulated will harm transit trade along Ghana’s corridor.
“We saw 55 Police and MTTD stops which included 40 permanent barriers and 15 temporary barriers, 2 Forestry Commission checkpoints, 3 Immigration checkpoints, 4 axle load stations – Tema motorway, Akom, a mobile axle weighbridge at Doboro and Sawala.”
But at a sensitization workshop for haulage truck drivers in Takoradi in the Western Region, Ms Bismarck assured that it is the avowed commitment of her outfit that no effort is spared in ensuring that truck drivers are regularly sensitized and fully equipped on international conventions, national and regional regulations, directives and measures that relate directly to their operations in order to engender full compliance.
“With respect to the conduct of the police on the corridor, the Authority is collaborating with the Police Administration to conduct sensitization seminars along the corridors. These events have already been held in Kumasi, Techiman and Tamale, with very encouraging outcomes. Those for Bolgatanga and Wa have been scheduled for the third quarter of this year.”
The Chief Executive Officer applauded the Inspector General of Police (IGP), James Oppong-Boanuh, for his personal commitment to removing trade barriers along Ghana’s transit corridors.
She indicated that, already, the e-Platform instituted by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority for reporting of Non-Tariff Barriers over the last few years is receiving positive outcomes.
“The performance report of this platform has indicated that an average of 98 percent of all reported complaints against the Police, Axle Load Officer, Customs and other operatives along the corridor have been resolved.
The Authority therefore urges all truck drivers to use the platform as their first point of call for issues along the corridor,” she urged.
She entreated truck drivers to make a conscious effort of complying diligently with all conventions and regulations – both regional and national – governing their work so as to put them in pole position to attract full benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“One of the aspirations of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) is to boost intra-African trade.
The expected increase in trade in products among African countries provides fresh opportunities for the haulage transport industry, especially to the land-linked countries. As key stakeholders, it will be prudent to hold yourselves in readiness for the expected good times ahead.”
According to her, the Authority is teaming up with GPHA and other stakeholders to reorganize the Joint Association of Port Transport Union (JAPTU) to ensure that they forge ahead with one voice in deliberations on transit trade, both locally and internationally.
Western Region Commander of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service Chief Superintendent Isaac Sorkpah assured that the Police remains committed in providing adequate security to enhance transit trade along the country’s corridor.
“Because we have the responsibility of enforcement, largely we will come into contact with you and at times it will result in some kind of confrontation. This is because of lack of understanding of the work that both of us are doing. But let me assure you that we are ready to work with you. All we are asking is for you to obey the road traffic regulations.”
He also called on the Ghana Shippers’ Authority and Haulage companies to do their part in promoting safe driver conduct on the road.
“I will appeal to you to ensure safe running of vehicles through proper maintenance on our roads. We also want you to monitor driver performance and conduct on the road so that they will not be doing anything in the name of driving but will follow simple regulations.
We also want you to help us enforce the compulsory resting period especially those who commute for more than 4 hours. Most of the accidents we are receiving from your end are coming in the evening through to dawn. This suggests that it happens because people are tired while driving.”
The participants applauded the Ghana Shippers’ Authority for the continuous sensitization on regional and national regulations governing their work and pledged to also shun conducts that will inhibit transit trade along the country’s corridor.